I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind. What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered. (Ecclesiastes 1:14-15 NLT, second edition)
| ||We set expectations for what our lives should look like and then stress out when we aren't as successful as we think we should be … || |
When Solomon became king of Israel, God told him that he could ask for anything he wanted. Solomon could have asked for riches or power or even immortality, but instead he asked God to give him wisdom. God answered Solomon’s request, and today we have the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon that record the great wisdom Solomon received.
In today’s verse, Solomon talks about the emotional distress and disappointment that is caused by sin in our world. Solomon realized that we can’t change our past and we can’t control our future. We can’t fix the world. If we try, it will only create a lot of stress in our lives.
As Christians, we often think it’s our responsibility to go out and bring in the kingdom. But here’s a little secret: It isn’t going to happen. Can we help relieve suffering in this world? Yes, absolutely. But we cannot bring heaven on earth.
That doesn’t diminish the emotional stress of living in a broken world where nothing works the way it’s supposed to work. We all know the pain of disappointment when we expect things to be perfect and they turn out otherwise.
Have you ever had a big build-up for an event that you thought would make you happy only to be let down? The anticipation of Christmas is always better than the actual day. It finally gets here and you go, “That’s it? It’s over? No more presents?”
The gap between expectation and reality happens in relationships too. So many marriage problems exist because the husband or wife thought marriage would solve all their personal problems and their spouse would meet all their needs. All that does is set them up for massive disappointment. No spouse can meet all your needs; only God can do that.
Because sin entered the world, there is emotional distress and disappointment with other people and with ourselves too. We set expectations for what our lives should look like and then stress out when we aren’t as successful as we think we should be, or our bodies don’t look as good as we want them to, or we still struggle with bad habits or addictions that we know we should have overcome by now.
Now that doesn’t mean we should stop striving for Christlikeness; it just means we need to adjust our expectations. This world we live in is not heaven. It is not perfect, and it never will be. We are not perfect, and we never will be while we’re alive on this earth. So give yourself and everyone around you a break, and remember to thank God for his grace in this broken world.
Saddleback Resources offers a small group Bible study related to these devotionals: The Invisible War-Winning the Battle of Temptation.
© Copyright 2011 Rick Warren. Used by permission.