J.C. Derrick: Managing expectations

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, February 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.  Managing Editor J.C. Derrick is here now with some thoughts on expectations and gratitude.

J.C. DERRICK, MANAGING EDITOR: As we approach Valentine’s Day, I’m always reminded of a scene I watched unfold a few years ago.

It was the day before Valentine’s Day. A group of Christians had just finished a tour of a major construction project in Washington, D.C. I didn’t know any of them previously but had tagged along to see if the project might be worth a story.

After exiting the building, we encountered a D.C. street vendor. He was selling roses.

“Ohh, you can get your flowers for Valentine’s Day!” one woman in our group said in a syrupy sweet voice. For a split-second I thought she was trying to be helpful, but then I caught the look on her face. She was actually mocking the idea.

This Christian woman then went on to trash her ex-husband for once having the audacity to buy her Valentine’s Day flowers from Costco.

I couldn’t help but think about all the people who would love to get Valentine’s flowers and don’t. And whether I was seeing a glimpse of why that particular marriage fell apart.

Expectations are tricky. On the one hand, they can be a reasonable part of life. Like expecting your children to obey.

On the other, they can be hidden mines along the road of life, waiting to blast us off course into anger and disillusionment.

Author Ian Cron put it this way: “Expectations are resentment waiting to happen.”

I think he’s right. I remember once taking flowers to a girlfriend whose response was, “I already have some.” Apparently I had not waited long enough between gifts.

I’m not sure what kind of response I expected, but rest assured—that was not it. Yes, resentment ensued. And, yes, the relationship eventually fell apart.

Resentment born out of unrealistic expectations can easily rob the joy out of God’s blessings.

My basic needs are met—but I want my wants met.

I have friends—but I want more or different friends.

I have a good job—but I want that job.

And before long, we start to think we’re actually entitled to it. This mentality is the antithesis of Paul’s confession in Philippians 4: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

So as we approach Valentine’s Day, I have two thoughts: First, I’m grateful for a Proverbs 31 wife who does not crush me with expectations.

And second, I’m reminded that when we set expectations on any other sinful human being, they will inevitably disappoint us. What a joy to know we serve a God who never does.

For WORLD Radio, I’m J.C. Derrick.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

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