Tuesday, July 28

Give Thanks: Managing Expectations

I trust you were not chased by any wild bulls or rabid dogs yesterday (see Monday's post). I trust that you also took time to think about what you are thankful for.

Why is it so difficult to be thankful at times? Where does that come from? Clearly part of the answer lies in our expectations. I remember when I turned 40 that I found a lot of inside questions coming to the surface:

Was I where I thought I would be by now?
Am I successful and happy?
What do I have to show for my life?
What impact have I made?
What is undone?

All of these questions are tied to unspoken, yet very real, expectations. If unmet, these expectations can lead to discontentment and ungratefulness.

If I expect happiness, no worries and lots of money then I am going to be sorely disappointed.

Read: Psalm 30
A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.

1 I will exalt you, O LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.

3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave;
you spared me from going down into the pit.

4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.

5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

6 When I felt secure, I said,
"I will never be shaken."
7 O LORD, when you favored me,
you made my mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

8 To you, O LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 "What gain is there in my destruction,
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
O LORD, be my help

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

David had to manage difficulty. This Psalm is a reflection on many difficult events. He had people that did not like him, in fact, folks that wanted him dead. I understand the feeling. I had 3 separate death threats during my 10 years of being a pastor and I can tell you it is a very scary thing!

David also dealt with pain and wailing and mourning (v.11). Many of the expectations he may have had were not being met.

YET ...

He teaches us something very important about managing expectations. We learn something about how to be thankful when we don't get our way. Are you ready for this? Here's how we do it: Change our focus!

So often when we face unmet expectations we do one of a couple of things:
1. We ratchet it up a notch - the Doer
2. We sulk - the Downer

We either try to fix the issue in our own power or we give up. Both of these methods fail because they begin and end with us. Our focus is on ourselves and our circumstances. This is not what David does! He goes hard after the Lord. When faced with difficulty and missed expectations he cries out, he hits his knees, he sings songs to God, he remembers what God has done.

Here is a powerful principle in managing unmet expectations ... change your focus.

Reread the blue sections above. See David's focus? See his source of hope?

How do you typically manage unmet expectations? Are you more of a doer or a downer? Can you remember things that God has done for you that will help you see Him in the midst of your disappointment?

Sing to the Lord. Lift your gaze to the heavens. Focus on your Father in heaven. Declare to him that you need his favor right now (v. 7).

Listen to There Will Be a Day by Jeremy Camp in the DevoLink Worship Center.

DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.

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