Hope, Expectations, and Disappointment

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12, NLT).

Hope, expectations, and disappointment are intertwined.

Hope can be Biblically defined as our expectations for the future. Having the wrong expectation or having our hope shattered leads to disappointment. The Apostle Paul writes about hope …

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (Romans 5:5, NLT).

The work of the Spirit will never disappoint. With our hope based upon Jesus and His eternal plan, no matter the contingencies of life, we can still hope … 

And never be disappointed! 

It’s important to build our expectations on God’s will. Let me share two scenarios on hope, expectations, and disappointment.

With Relationships

Everyone starts a new relationship with a hope for the future. Hope found in relationships can be either a legitimate or false hope. 

A while back, a couple came to me for marriage counseling. They had been married for six months and were constantly fighting. Listening to both, I realized that the wife wanted her husband to be like her father, and the husband wanted his wife to not be like his mother.

I was able to get them off the false expectations and back to a hope based on Biblical love, and they are still married today.

With Leadership

As a pastor, I knew that the key to leading a large church was to attract leaders with more talent than I had.

Strong leaders have strong hope with strong expectations. My job was to discern the Lord’s will in their hope and help them build correct expectations for their job based on their calling and not their ego.

I could make two mistakes in mentoring other leaders.  

I could ignore their false expectations of me, the church, or their calling and, by doing so, set them up for future disappointment. Or I could undermine their hope by working behind their backs, trying to control them, or manipulating them into my conception of their hope (and not God’s).

In developing leaders, I had to understand their true hope/expectations while encouraging them to take steps of faith in that direction …

… and then get out of their way.

Let’s Consider

With hope ruined in relationships, leadership, business, or any area — we experience frustration.

After Jeremiah experienced immense disappointment from watching the Israelites’ false hope in idolatry and nationalism destroy Jerusalem, He summarized correct expectations … 

I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but by following Jesus and His plans, we have a hope that will never disappoint.

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