What Do You Expect?

Don't get trapped in wrong expectations.

I expect daily to be killed, betrayed, or brought back into slavery, or something of the kind. But, because of the promise of heaven, I fear none of these things. For I have thrown myself into the hands of Almighty God, who reigns everywhere...

  - Patrick, Confession, Irish, 5th century[1]

Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

  - Acts 21.13

Expectation plays a powerful – but often unrecognized – role in our lives.

Many people try to avoid things that they expect might bring them into conflict, opposition, suffering, or pain, because they are conditioned to live with a view to maximizing bodily comfort and personal pleasure or, at least, convenience. But if we’re living for Christ, those are normal expectations for life in the Kingdom, as Patrick testified and Paul demonstrated. We don’t shrink from adversity, because we expect it; but we live through it toward the higher expectations of realizing the Kingdom of God.

Living for comfort, pleasure, and convenience will throw the soul under the bus to avoid painful experiences. We’ll never succeed in our Personal Mission Field if all we expect in life are ease, comfort, pleasure, and convenience. We need to line up our expectations and hopes with the promises of life in the Kingdom. That way, like Patrick, we’ll be able to push through difficult expectations because we’re pressing toward the greater expectations of growing in Christ and His love.

These days it’s not uncommon for Christians to believe that our faith in Jesus should not only not inconvenience us, but it should not be a source of upset or distress or inconvenience to others, either. And we live our faith accordingly, being careful not to disturb anyone with our boasting about the Lord (2 Cor. 10.13), or our insistence on following a different path than theirs (1 Pet. 4.1-4).

Neither Patrick nor Paul lived this way. And certainly, neither did the Lord Jesus.

They knew the Gospel would stir up controversy. They knew it would make people angry and resistant, even to the point of causing difficulty and suffering for themselves. They knew that seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of God would be a struggle, and would meet with opposition. They knew that Jesus had told us to expect as much, and so they did! And they lived into those expectations, without regard for personal convenience or bodily pleasure, because they expected to realize more of the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit as they did. Faithful believers live into the wind of opposition, because they expect to know the Presence, promise, and power of Christ as they do. And that great expectation overrides fear and inconvenience to tap into the power of God’s Word and Spirit.

What about you? Do you expect working your Personal Mission Field to be a source of great entertainment? Of endless fun and pleasure? The Bible says it’s like pulling a plow, boxing with an opponent, or going to war. Not much fun, those. But if we expect such to be the case, we can prepare daily for it, and trust the Lord to sail us through such opposing gales to the shores of sanctification and greater spiritual strength.

Don’t we know that Jesus told us to expect that the world would hate us like it hated Him? That the Gospel we live and proclaim will cause divisions and strife? That people will speak ill of us, persecute us, and do all manner of evil against us because of the Gospel?

But remember that He also told us to expect that He will be with us always, and will never fail us nor forsake us. And that expectation should be for us so great, that it overrules and overrides all expectations of struggle or suffering to lead us into the greater glory of expansive Kingdom living.

What expectations will you live toward today? Those of the world, or those of Patrick, Paul, and Jesus?

For Reflection
1. What expectations are guiding your activities for today?

2. How can believers encourage one another to focus more consistently on Kingdom expectations?

Psalm 124.1-3, 8 (Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
If You had not been with us, Jesus – let all who love You say with pride –
When foes arose to fright and seize us, they would have swallowed us alive!
  Our help is in Your Name, O Lord,
  Who made creation by Your Word.

Lord, give me right expectations, and a true heart of faith, so that today I will…

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T. M. Moore
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Da Paor, p. 107.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore