It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
That’s what he told me. I’d called him because I’d noticed that he and his family hadn’t been around for a few weeks. “Chuck, is everything alright? I haven’t seen you guys for a while. You guys okay?”
“It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” he said. “We did everything we were supposed to do. We faithfully came to church and care group. We read our Bibles and prayed. We taught our children about the Lord. We gave our money to God. And now look what’s happened. My son gets a girl pregnant and has to get married. He’s not following the Lord. I thought God promised to bless me if I followed him.”
Sadly, this man never came back to our church.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Though many of us wouldn’t say this, we often subtly believe it. If I follow God, he will bless me with a good life. If I follow the Lord, all my children will be saved at young ages, marry attractive, godly spouses, and have perfect children themselves. If I follow the Lord, I’ll have a great life.
But God doesn’t owe us our best life now. He doesn’t owe us anything. We owe God everything. Jesus doesn’t save us to fulfill our plans and purposes, but to fulfill his plans and purposes. God’s plan is to glorify his name, not make us successful or give us long, healthy, trouble free lives.
If we believe it’s supposed to be a certain way if we do certain things, that makes God our debtor.
Then it’s not grace. He owes us. We earned it. We deserve it. But God doesn’t operate on a deserve it system. His kingdom runs on grace, from beginning to end. We don’t deserve to be saved; he saves us by grace. We don’t deserve any blessings; God graciously pours out thousands of undeserved blessings on us by grace.
God’s plan is to not to give us our best life now, but to glorify his name by transforming us into the likeness of Christ. And sometimes he does that through suffering. Sometimes he makes us like Christ by withholding what we’d desire.
It is wrong expectations that get us into trouble. Wrong expectations of God. Or our church. Or our spouse. Or of life. If we expect something and don’t get it, then we can become disillusioned, bitter and depressed.
We can have expectations of God, though. We can expect to know God more and more through his Word and Spirit. We can expect him to be faithful to us, to never leave nor forsake us. We can expect God to supply us with all the grace we need to glorify him in any situation. We can expect him to use every blessing and every trial in our lives to make us more like Jesus. We can expect to someday see his face and worship him forever and enjoy our eternal inheritance in heaven.
I try to have no expectations from this fallen world. I try to have no expectations from fallen human beings. Even of those Christ has redeemed, my fellow sinner saints, I expect them to fail and at times even sin against me, though I believe they love Jesus and he will complete the good work he began in them, just as I will fail and sin against them, and Jesus will finish his transforming work in me.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Here’s how it was supposed to be – we all should be in hell, in darkness, despair and unimaginable pain. Instead, if you’re a believer, we’re here, loved by our Father, saved by the Son, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Adopted into God’s family. Sons and daughters. No, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. It should have been worse. So really, this is our best life now, no matter what we’re suffering. But our true best life is yet to come.