Bob Tamasy: Great Expectations – Not So Great Realities

Thursday, May 1, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens’ best novel according to some, tells the story of an orphan named Pip. Despite its popularity, many people have never read this classic work of fiction. Yet we all know what it’s like to have great expectations.

Students graduate from high school with lofty ideals and grand visions for changing the world. A couple exchanges “I do’s” at a lavish wedding ceremony, confident their chosen spouse will meet all of their needs and life will consist of daily episodes of happily-ever-after. Interviews go well and promising professionals get hired for their “perfect jobs,” certain the future holds nothing but one success after another. 

Sadly, reality doesn’t always align with expectations. Idealistic students discover the real world isn’t so accommodating of their dreams, transforming some of them into cynics. Post-honeymoon, husbands and wives learn their mates have abundant flaws they either ignored or hadn’t noticed. “Perfect” jobs become drudgery, turning hopeful mornings into grievous chores as workers dread the onset of another workday.

Great expectations wilt in the face of not so great realities. 

Sometimes church life isn’t much different. Pastors fall, exposing their feet of clay. Congregations divide over seemingly minor differences. Friends in Sunday school or the small group fail to come alongside when needed most. Admired “spiritual giants” prove to be a first-class hypocrites.

We commit our lives to Jesus Christ and instead of “showers of blessing,” we confront a deluge of problems. A friend told me years ago, “Before I turned my life over to Jesus, I could touch manure and it would turn into gold. After committing my life to Him, I’d touch gold and it would turn into manure.” 

Or God doesn’t answer our prayers, at least as we anticipate He should. Loved ones die despite earnest entreaties. We don’t get the job offer we hoped to receive. A damaged relationship isn’t restored despite our best efforts. The infertile couple never realizes their dream of having a biological child. Is that the way for God to treat His children?

People and circumstances can and will let us down. At times we will fail to meet the expectations of others – even if we don’t intend to do so. And we discover God isn’t a cosmic short-order cook. He’s not there to do our bidding, and many times doesn’t do what we expect. 

Does this mean we should shelve all of our expectations? Should cynicism become our calling card, convinced things will never turn out the way we think they should? That’s definitely one approach. Another is to be realistic with our expectations. Aim high, but acknowledge life often has a way of falling short of the intended target. Ironically, sometimes we’re surprised to learn falling short was a better target anyway.

One thing we shouldn’t do is crumble in resignation to our “fate.” We can find encouragement from the best source of all – God. After all, He knows us better than we know ourselves. As John 2:25 says of Jesus Christ, He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” 

When we feel misunderstood, underestimated or unappreciated for all we’re doing, again we can find consolation in the way Jesus was treated by people around Him, despite all His wondrous teachings and acts He had performed. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).

And we can trust that ultimately, no matter what life hands to us, God promises to meet – and exceed – our greatest expectations. Even in prison, the apostle Paul could confidently write, “according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20). 

Paul had not the slightest fear or doubt that his ministry would prove to be in vain, despite great adversity and suffering. As he wrote to his disciple, Timothy, “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Sounds like great expectations to me!

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Times Are A Changing Quickly Is Topic At Middle Valley COG

Middle Valley Church of God announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, 'Times Are A Changing, Quickly! '  in the 10:30 a.m. service on Sunday.    Pastor McClure will lead the congregation in a time of prayer and worship on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.  All are invited to participate in this event.  Each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Sunday school classes ... (click for more)

New Hope Missionary Baptist Church To Hold Praise And Worship Celebration Benefit

New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 3777 Wilcox Blvd. in Chattanooga, will host The Brenda Bryant Young Servant Benefit on Sunday, Aug. 13 at 3 p.m. "The benefit aims to continue Brenda’s legacy and spirit of giving by contributing to two of her favorite ministries: LifeLine Ministries, a ministry specializing in life skills development and faith-based counseling services to ... (click for more)

Bill Kilbride To Retire As Chamber CEO; Chamber Leader To Step Down Dec. 31; Chamber Starts Transition Process

Bill Kilbride, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber, has announced that he is retiring from his position effective  Dec. 31 .   Larry Buie, chairman of the Chamber board of directors, expressed his appreciation for Bill's efforts. He said, “Bill Kilbride has led us through the past three years to a place of excellence in terms of strategic leadership. Among ... (click for more)

Corker Votes For Amendment To Repeal Core Elements Of Obamacare; Alexander Votes Against It

Senator Bob Corker voted for an amendment to repeal the core elements of Obamacare, while allowing for a reasonable transition period for a replacement to be developed and implemented. “As I have said before, I believe the best path forward is for Congress to repeal Obamacare after a reasonable transition period,” said Senator Corker. “This amendment would take us back ... (click for more)

Prayers For Denny - And Response

I don’t live in Chattanooga any longer unfortunately and haven’t for many years now, but when I did live there, I was more than a regular at Yesterdays.  It was basically my second home….as it was for many, many of my friends and others that I may not have known their names, but definitely knew their faces.   It was the “Cheers” of Chattanooga. It was the place that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘No Sir -- It Stays Here’

To any of the millions who have served the United States on the field of combat, the most hallowed and prized distinction is our nation’s Medal of Honor. It is never given, it is always earned before it is ever awarded.  At least that’s the way it was up until a sun-splashed Wednesday three weeks ago in Vicenza, Italy. There is an Army base there that houses the 173 rd Airborne ... (click for more)