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.


Steve Ellison: Disciples Harvest

In the fourth chapter of the gospel of John, Jesus met a woman alone at Jacob’s well in Samaria. The woman was an outcast among her people because of her immorality.  While Jesus was talking with this woman, his disciples went into town to buy food. Jesus chose this woman to entrust the gospel to.  Jesus talked with her about her sin and told her in clear and unmistakable ... (click for more)

New Book By Local Author Helps Children Know God

Local author Karen Sherrill believes others can help children know God through his Word and that by knowing him, they can begin to trust him in challenging circumstances. This is the goal behind her story about a little girl with a great, big faith in God in her new children’s book, “Gena Trusts God”   ( published by WestBow Press ).   Written in a simple poem ... (click for more)

Hutcheson Medical Center Seeking Court Approval To Sell Trenton Family Practice For $350,000

Hutcheson Medical Center, continuing to make cost-cutting measures, is seeking court approval to sell the Trenton Family Practice at Trenton, Ga., for $350,000. Ted Rumley, county executive for Dade County, said the medical center is so important for the county that officials have arranged for the Dade County Industrial Development Authority to buy it. He said arrangements ... (click for more)

Sheriff Hammond Says Chattanooga Shooting Was Illustration Of "Islam Terrorism"

"Communism with a god.” That’s how Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond sees Islam.   He also said Muslims are aiming to overtake Tennessee. He said, "They want Tennessee. They are building mosques as fast as they can."   In an address to the Pachyderm Club on Monday, Sheriff Hammond spoke again to the community on the effects of radical Islam and the dangers ... (click for more)

Sheriff Hammond Is Right On The Muslim Threat

Sheriff Hammond is exactly correct on the Muslims in Tennessee.  He sees with clear eyes the problem with the Muslims in our state and country.  They do want to take over Tennessee.  Our politicians are selling us down the river and allowing the trouble makers to dig in like tics and suck out the life's blood of our Constitution and take us over.  They ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My September Garden

As we begin the annual pilgrimage into fall, I walk through my garden and, in the spirit of Orchids and Onions, I see colorful mums starting to flower at the same time dried-up weeds are begging to be pulled. So as we turn the calendar to September, here are some things that catch my eye: A COLORFUL MUM to Chattanooga State for unveiling the Michael Hennen Hospitality Center in ... (click for more)