We have so many expectations for our lives—hopes we have about something or the perception of how we think something should happen. We have expectations for the ins and outs of everyday life: the type of job we should have, how our house should look, what age we should get married / have kids, “family rules,” and how we think others should act.
The holidays bring an entirely new set of hopes and anticipations. We have expectations about the way our house should be decorated, about the lavish food that should be prepared, traditions that we need to carry on in our families, and the ways that things have always been done.
When our expectations aren’t satisfied, we are often met with disappointment. We know what we want to happen—what we planned—and it doesn’t come to fruition. Unfulfilled expectations lead to disappointment. We’ve done so much work. We hinged our hopes on this moment. We expected results. And then it doesn’t happen.
If we think about Christmas, there were lots of expectations of the coming Messiah. Everyone wanted a triumphant savior that arrived to save the people. No one expected a baby born to two people in a precarious relationship in a dark, dirty place where no one wanted him. Hopes and expectations were quickly dashed. Doubt crept in for the people waiting for the Messiah. Self-doubt, sadness, and disappointment all began to grow.
This time of year reminds us that we don’t always get what we expect. And yes, it can be hard. I’m sure Mary and Joseph (and even the people waiting for the Messiah) weren’t immediately calmed when Jesus arrived as an infant, powerless and vulnerable. But over time, even our disappointment can be used to create new hope. It reminds us that God can do so much more than our expectations allow.
There are going to be ups and downs in life and the unfulfilled expectations will bring lots of disappointment. But there is something even greater coming. In both your hopes and disappointments, know that God is with us.