In Luke 1, we learn that Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and his wife, Elizabeth, were both very old and childless. Elizabeth has not been able to conceive. I have every reason to believe, though, that Zechariah and Elizabeth had prayed hundreds and hundred of times asking the Lord to give them a child. But the Lord hadn’t given them a child. What Zechariah and Elizabeth had expected, hadn’t happened. For years they’ve lived with the stigma and even shame of Elizabeth being barren and childless. Their expectations had not been fulfilled all these years.
Each of us has to face the reality of unmet expectations. The greater your expectation, the more devastating it can be if it’s unfulfilled. How about the expectation of a loving spouse and healthy marriage that just didn’t turn out how you imagined because of adultery or abuse? Or the expectation to raise loving, responsible, stable children who were strong believers – and that just didn’t happen the way you had planned… or landing a job that would fulfill you and adequately provide for your family – and it just didn’t happen… or expecting to grow old together with your spouse, but cancer or heart attack cut their life short. Unmet expectations can be devastating, rob your joy, chip away at your faith and ultimately can feed cynicism. If you let it.
When you’ve obeyed the scriptures, yet your dreams still lay shattered and broken, you could feel hopeless… you could question God’s ability… your faith can take a hit. And if God doesn’t answer your many prayers the way you want, what happens then? No one is exempt from life’s disappointments and unmet expectations. (not me, not you, not your kids) We don’t live in the wonderful world of Disney where all you need to do is believe and your dreams will come true and everyone will live happily ever after. That is not this world. Many of us know the deep, deep soul-pain of rejection. There are people who have never felt loved by their mom or dad as they grew up. There are some who have felt abandoned and alone when their parents died, or their parents divorced. Soul pain is the fertile soil where the devil’s lies are planted. He slips a little lie right into the middle of your hurt – the lie that you’re no good and no one loves you. And soul pain left to fester can produce unbelief… hopelessness… bitterness… and even cynicism. It’s how the devil destroys so many lives. Please don’t be unaware or ignorant of the devil’s strategy. It’s why people turn to drugs, sex, opioids, and alcohol to numb the soul pain buried somewhere deep down in their heart. It hurts. You’ve been emotionally wounded maybe even physically abused. But Jesus wants to set you free! Jesus can heal your broken heart, speak hope into your hopeless soul, reignite your faith, and show you the miraculous! This is what Advent is all about! This is what all Christmas is about! True hope, love and eternal life comes into the world and those who respond will be healed!