4 Expectations that Transform Hopelessness

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Recently our nation has experienced yet another tragedy through a devastating tornado that hit near Oklahoma City. As we as a nation grieve, I’m reminded that many of us face terrible trials and times of loss in this life. But I’ve found that when I change my expectations in the times of trouble, God brings great comfort to my heart.

Here’s what to “expect” …

1.  Expect that life {and marriage} will always be messy and painful.

The ideal life and perfect spouse are not to be found. We’re all human and will fail one another. There’s no such thing as a “soul-mate” unless you’re referring to the satisfaction only your Savior can provide your soul. If you’re facing difficulty in this life and troubles in your marriage, then you are normal.

Remember Jesus’ words: 
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33b (NIV)

2.  Expect God’s presence and provision at all times.

Do you practice God’s presence? Do you mentally remind yourself that He is with you? I’ve said this before, but I take time each day to meditate on God. I imagine walking with Jesus—being with Him. Often in those times I’m reminded of the nail-scarred hands and the sacrifice He made for you and me. My sense of the price He paid becomes more vivid and palpable. Sometimes my feelings of love for Him and Him for me overwhelm me. God can meet you anywhere and anytime and wants His presence to comfort you in the middle of your conflict and suffering.

“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matt. 28:20b (NIV)

3.  Expect trials to develop you.

Don’t just persevere or suffer through your trial, rejoice in the reality that God is using your suffering as His training ground where real growth is taking place. He’s not only developing you into a better spouse or stronger Christian, but He’s also using your pain here and now for good. If you are rejoicing in Him, your faith during this trial is encouraging and building up others that you come in contact with. Don’t doubt that for a second! Don’t dwell on the impact you hope to someday have, rejoice in the huge influence God’s given you today!  

4.  Expect that life {and marriage} will always be a mixture of joy and pain.

Recently, I’ve come to a place of surrender with a particular struggle in my life and I’ve been puzzled by the fact that I haven’t felt “complete” peace—not because God’s peace wasn’t being felt, but because I also was continuing to feel longing and pain. Then it dawned on me—something I’ve known, but had forgottenlife is always a mixture of joy and pain. Just because you’re surrendered to God in an area of your life doesn’t mean the pain ends. It just means He is with you in that pain. And it means He’s not removing you from the trouble … at least not yet.

What “storm” or trial are you going through today?

What have you been focusing on or expecting that has left you discouraged and hopeless?

Please join with me in praying that the victims and families of this disaster would sense God’s presence, comfort and provision. And if you’d like to donate through Samaritan’s Purse (who I’m not affiliated with but believe in) to the Oklahoma tornado relief effort, click here.

photo by NOAA Photo Library

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Joining with NOBH, Works for Me Wednesday, T.G.I.F., and To Love Honor and Vacuum

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  • Hey Beth – I love that you’ve emphasized expectation. Maybe if we really get that ‘life happens,’ we won’t be so overwhelmed, disillusioned, and traumatized when it does.
    As always, my fine friend …thank you!

    • I know that I haven’t always looked at troubles in life this way. I’ve often “expected” my life and marriage to be smooth and easier. But that’s when I doubt God and His goodness. It’s so freeing when I can trust that God is working even in the hard and painful situations. Thanks for your sweet and encouraging words, Linda. You know, I always appreciate hearing from you!

  • Hey Beth – I love that you’ve emphasized expectation. Maybe if we really get that ‘life happens,’ we won’t be so overwhelmed, disillusioned, and traumatized when it does.
    As always, my fine friend …thank you!

  • Tyson Cooper

    Great thoughts as usual Beth. We need to have realistic expectations about marriage and one of those expectations should be that it will be great. Our expectations have a way of coming true so we need to be realistic but positive. Thanks for the link up too!

    • There truly is “joy” in life and marriage and the sooner I trust that God is with me and helping me in the trouble (or the good time), the sooner I can feel that joy and realize that it is not dependent on good circumstances. Thanks for weighing in, Tyson. I love your positive attitude and love for your wife. It is infectious!

  • Tyson Cooper

    Great thoughts as usual Beth. We need to have realistic expectations about marriage and one of those expectations should be that it will be great. Our expectations have a way of coming true so we need to be realistic but positive. Thanks for the link up too!

  • These are comforting and timely thoughts Beth. I love all the point, and # 4 stands out. I realize that whenever I lose His peace, i am the one that moved, not Him. My moving is also mostly connected to hanging on to wrong expectations and carrying on the wrong mindset.

    Coming to that place of surrender is not always easy (esp because it takes a while to understand am carrying wrong expectations ) but there’s such peace and joy when I let go. Thanks for this wonderful reminder today. I needed it : )

    • Yes, surrendering is not easy, but once you get to that point with Christ, you realize that is the easiest choice. Contradictory, I know, but God is the God of mystery and paradox.

      I’m so glad that you found these comforting to you, Ngina. I hear ya on the “I’m the one who’s moved” part. That’s so important to remember. God is always with us, if we will just turn toward Him! Thanks my sweet friend for coming by and encouraging me!

  • These are comforting and timely thoughts Beth. I love all the point, and # 4 stands out. I realize that whenever I lose His peace, i am the one that moved, not Him. My moving is also mostly connected to hanging on to wrong expectations and carrying on the wrong mindset.

    Coming to that place of surrender is not always easy (esp because it takes a while to understand am carrying wrong expectations ) but there’s such peace and joy when I let go. Thanks for this wonderful reminder today. I needed it : )

  • This message resonates with me today, Beth. How easy it is to assume we are entitled to the joy but not the pain. Struggle is normal… that’s encouraging. How we deal with it and allow it to transform us makes all the difference. Easier said than done. 🙂

    • I think Satan wants us to believe that we have made some mistake–like marrying the wrong person–when we question the “normalcy” of the troubles we face in marriage. It’s a trap and keeps us from embracing God’s plan to refine us and paralyzes our ability to surrender our hurtful situation to His redemptive hand.

      I’m so glad you were encouraged by it, Becky. Love seeing your sweet face here–even if it’s just in a thumbnail photo! 🙂

  • This message resonates with me today, Beth. How easy it is to assume we are entitled to the joy but not the pain. Struggle is normal… that’s encouraging. How we deal with it and allow it to transform us makes all the difference. Easier said than done. 🙂

  • Megan@DoNotDisturb

    Thanks for sharing. So true that brokenness is an integral part of life and how the only hope is to surrender to God.

    Megan

    • I think your spoke so well to this on your blog, Megan. We share a common understanding and heartbeat about God’s refining purposes and ability to help us in our marriages. Thanks so much for weighing in and linking up!

  • Megan@DoNotDisturb

    Thanks for sharing. So true that brokenness is an integral part of life and how the only hope is to surrender to God.

    Megan

  • OutnumberedMom

    Joining you in prayer for Oklahoma, Beth — where we had our first home together. I do think it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised when things go well, and best to be prepared for the possible hardship. As my son and his fiancée go through premarital counseling, I’m thankful that they’re talking about the great stuff and the hard stuff, both.

    • I’m certain this tragedy hits very close to home for you, Laura Lee, if you lived near there at one time. We’ve always lived in various places in the midwest, so it really hits home with me as well.

      I’m so glad to hear that your son and his fiance are talking through, not just how to communicate or roles and responsibilities in marriage, but also the trials of life and how to cling to God in those times. Satan is a “divide and conquer” kind of guy, so a couple is ripe for his picking when they don’t know how to turn to God together in times of trouble. Thanks so much for coming by, my sweet friend!

  • OutnumberedMom

    Joining you in prayer for Oklahoma, Beth — where we had our first home together. I do think it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised when things go well, and best to be prepared for the possible hardship. As my son and his fiancée go through premarital counseling, I’m thankful that they’re talking about the great stuff and the hard stuff, both.

  • Sherry Lechner Jennings

    I love how you talk about ‘practicing God’s presence.’ There is a difference between knowing it and walking it out, and we see that difference as we walk through tragedy and difficult circumstances. Thank you so much for sharing!! Over at Intentionally Yours, we LOVE Messy Marriage!

    • Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me, Sherry. I truly appreciate what you all are about at Intentionally Yours as well. It’s evident that our faith in God is paramount to the message we offer to couples in need or crisis. I know He has made all the difference in redeeming the messes in my marriage. Hugs to you!

  • I know that I haven’t always looked at troubles in life this way. I’ve often “expected” my life and marriage to be smooth and easier. But that’s when I doubt God and His goodness. It’s so freeing when I can trust that God is working even in the hard and painful situations. Thanks for your sweet and encouraging words, Linda. You know, I always appreciate hearing from you!

  • There truly is “joy” in life and marriage and the sooner I trust that God is with me and helping me in the trouble (or the good time), the sooner I can feel that joy and realize that it is not dependent on good circumstances. Thanks for weighing in, Tyson. I love your positive attitude and love for your wife. It is infectious!

  • Yes, surrendering is not easy, but once you get to that point with Christ, you realize that is the easiest choice. Contradictory, I know, but God is the God of mystery and paradox.

    I’m so glad that you found these comforting to you, Ngina. I hear ya on the “I’m the one who’s moved” part. That’s so important to remember. God is always with us, if we will just turn toward Him! Thanks my sweet friend for coming by and encouraging me!

  • I think Satan wants us to believe that we have made some mistake–like marrying the wrong person–when we question the “normalcy” of the troubles we face in marriage. It’s a trap and keeps us from embracing God’s plan to refine us and paralyzes our ability to surrender our hurtful situation to His redemptive hand.

    I’m so glad you were encouraged by it, Becky. Love seeing your sweet face here–even if it’s just in a thumbnail photo! 🙂

  • I think your spoke so well to this on your blog, Megan. We share a common understanding and heartbeat about God’s refining purposes and ability to help us in our marriages. Thanks so much for weighing in and linking up!

  • I’m certain this tragedy hits very close to home for you, Laura Lee, if you lived near there at one time. We’ve always lived in various places in the midwest, so it really hits home with me as well.

    I’m so glad to hear that your son and his fiance are talking through, not just how to communicate or roles and responsibilities in marriage, but also the trials of life and how to cling to God in those times. Satan is a “divide and conquer” kind of guy, so a couple is ripe for his picking when they don’t know how to turn to God together in times of trouble. Thanks so much for coming by, my sweet friend!

  • Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me, Sherry. I truly appreciate what you all are about at Intentionally Yours as well. It’s evident that our faith in God is paramount to the message we offer to couples in need or crisis. I know He has made all the difference in redeeming the messes in my marriage. Hugs to you!

  • Andrea Stonecipher

    What a great post, Beth! I see so many people who suffer because they have unrealistic expectations of life that don’t get met. This is a great reminder that life is always filled with both joy and suffering. I love your blogs!! Andrea Stonecipher

  • Andrea Stonecipher

    What a great post, Beth! I see so many people who suffer because they have unrealistic expectations of life that don’t get met. This is a great reminder that life is always filled with both joy and suffering. I love your blogs!! Andrea Stonecipher