How do I handle expectation and disappointment?

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How do I handle expectation and disappointment? The Christmas season can bring lots of excitement, anticipation, and expectation, but it can also be disappointing because it does not live up to the hype. How do we handle this? And how do we handle expectation and disappointment in life? We will look at Luke 2:25-35, the story of Simeon, and how God's Word helps us answer this question.

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We are in our Deeper series—asking some deep questions about the Christmas story or about life.
and the question today is this: How do I handle expectation and disappointment?
how do I handle it at Christmas time, and how do I handle these in the Christian life in general?
Expectations are a big deal in life.
Think of Christmas—many of us whether we realize it or not, have a lot of expectations around the Christmas time.
think of yourself—for a moment—what are some expectations that you or your family have at Christmas…(go ahead—talk)
Brainstorming with our staff—here are some expectations that we have at Christmas time:
Family peace; no tension. Can’t we just all gather and get along, and at least not bring up whatever tension is there in your family.
Everyone can gather — everyone will be home for Christmas. that song “I’ll be home for Christmas…you can count on me.”
Health—no one in the hospital; nobody will die at Christmas time. but as you know this is not true.
Lots of gifts. Maybe there is this idea if I just get you the right gift, then that will solve whatever tension there may have been in the past.
you could probably summarize all of this--
Hallmark Moments—that we will have moments of special family bonding—making cookies; playing games together as as family; the idea that everyone can be home for Christmas and under the same roof; there’s reason we like those kinds of movies where the person falls in love, where no one’s alone at Christmas, where we are one big happy family....
and yet—I have heard that many also feel a sort of let-down after the holidays.
I have seen many of your posts online—that this year feel ESPECIALLY busy. Christmas programs, parties at school, kids’ activities…family gatherings...
and after all of it is over…there is a sort of ‘that’s it?”
Pastor Sinclair Ferguson “When I was a child, Christmas seemed to die every year by bedtime on December 25th. The anticipation seemed long; the realization all too brief. I even tried wrapping up my presents again and opening them the following morning.”1
How do we handle that...
and not just that...
expectation in life…as a Christian....what are some expectations that we have as Christians???
If I become a Christian then ___________ will happen… (turn to your neighbor again)
things will always work out. No trouble. Jesus challenged that— “in this world, you will have trouble...”
that God will always answer my prayer like I think he should....one of my favorite Christian authors talks about this—and he tells a story that when he was in college, he and his girlfriend were pretty serious. he says “I did everything I possibly could, everything I possibly could, you know, everything I possibly could to get married to a woman who if I had gotten married to her, it would’ve been the wrong woman. And as I look back at my 22 year old self, I now think that probably about two thirds of the things I wanted were wrong or bad, bad things and if I gotten them, they have been very bad, two-thirds. Now here’s the thing that scares me. What’s my percentage now?”
another expectation is for smooth relationships—that we will always have peace—while Christianity brings a lot of peace....
I want you to turn to Luke 2:22 and following.
this is after Jesus was born; not as well known of a story. but Luke helps set
Luke 2:22–24 NIV
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
so Joseph and Mary were good law abiding Jews—and took baby Jesus to do what the OT law said. (BTW—this would not have been easy—no jogging strollers back then)
and while there look what happened...
Luke 2:25–35 (NIV)
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.
26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,
(do you notice all those references to the Spirit)
28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.
34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,
35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
now i have to admit as a parent I find the idea that some guy just randomly took your baby in his arms—little strange…used to happen to my wife at Wal-Mart when she would take the baby there—random people just come up and touch your baby...
but Luke is communicating some pretty incredible things about Jesus.
Luke 2:36–40 NIV
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
These 2 characters—Simeon and Anna—not as well known around Christmas time but extremely important helping us understand expectations.
they help us understand and make sense of expectation and disappointment.
so how do we handle —let me show you—from this passage. 3 expectations
Expectation #1—Jesus brings redemption or freedom from sin now, but full and final redemption will come at his 2nd coming.
look at vs. 25--
Luke 2:25 NIV
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.
consolation—we see that word consolation—and the word —console—that’s the idea of comfort.
we sing that song “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus...” Israel’s strength and consolation.
Simeon is waiting for Israel, which at that time, was under Roman power and rule, to experience comfort. to experience deliverance in some fashion from oppression.
The OT prophets looked forward to a day when Israel was experience freedom spiritually, emotionally, politically, socially.
Anna is another character here---in verse 38.
Luke 2:38 NIV
38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
that word redemption—means freedom—to be bought from slavery.
there was an incredible expectation that Jesus would bring freedom, redemption.
however, Jesus did not totally bring the redemption and freedom they wanted. many of the Jews wanted a political freedom. that Jesus would be a conquering general…and while Jesus showed incredible power—walking on water, raising the dead, healing the sick…the first freedom and redemption he brought was from sin within our hearts.
b/c of our sin—and our tendency to replace God—we need first of all freedom from sin—and Jesus brought that when he lived and died on our behalf on the cross so that if we surrender to Jesus—we experience freedom from sin and a relationship with God.
the 1st time he came—this is the kind of redemption he brought within and with God. and if he would have set everything right the first time, he would have had to end us…no he came to deal with sin first, so that... the 2nd time he comes in the future—he will bring full and final redemption over all the forces of evil—the universe will be made right.
sometimes we forget this—we live in this time between his 1st and 2nd coming—that is marked by great redemption but still marked by sin and suffering.
I think Simeon understood this at some level—the HS had revealed he would not die until he had seen the Savior—yet he sees this little baby—come in. maybe at one time he was expecting an adult—who knows?
but in Jesus himself—he sees that Jesus really is salvation—that salvation is a person—it’s a relationship. and that was enough for Simeon—more than enough.
We yearn at Christmas for all sorts of desires to be met—and there is one who can satisfy those things. Mary said this
Luke 1:53 NIV
53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
if you are struggling this verse is good news—the only thing you need to be satisfied is hunger for Jesus.
and if you have Jesus—you have salvation, you have light, you have glory.
life is not always easy but you have Jesus Christ. it’s worth it.
all you have to do is ask him.
sample prayer from Alistair Begg - “Jesus, You’re the only one who can fill my heart. I want You to come and do that for me. Above all else—more than the gifts, more than the trees, more than the food, more than the friends and family, more than the lasting memories—I want Your joy to fill me and strengthen me.” Ask Him in faith, and He will surely do it.
2. Expectation #2 — Jesus brings division among people.
look at verse 34--
Luke 2:34 NIV
34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,
what is Simeon saying to Joseph and Mary and to us?
Jesus bring redemption but he will cause division.
some will accept and some will not.
some will rise with Jesus, and some will fall b/c of Jesus.
some will speak against him.
why do some accept, and why do some reject?
Look at John 3:19-20
John 3:19–20 NIV
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
some people hate having their darkness exposed—that is painful and embarrassing. we love darkness.
if you love a life that’s all about Jesus-you will stick out. if you are in a factory, and your attitude is I am working for Jesus—your work ethic, and positive attitude will stick out, and puts a spotlight on your co-workers lack of work ethic and negative attitude—their darkness is being exposed at some level.
one author says this: “I once knew a white author in a neighborhood--that was very welcoming to the first African American family who moved into their area. Their white neighbors were furious with them. For years these neighbors had given any new nonwhite families the cold shoulder. The friendly family made others feel the pressure to be more open and engaging and they didn’t like it, not at all.
(Keller, Timothy. Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ (p. 119). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Jesus is also divisive because he makes exclusive claims—”I am the way, the truth, and the life—no one comes to the Father except through me.” we don’t like exclusive claims today.
in early Christianity in the Roman empire---Christians were viewed strangely and often as a threat—because Roman life required you to acknowledge many gods…and you had to worship that at most ceremonies, marketplaces—and to refuse to do so aroused suspicion.
Christians were different—b/c they didn’t have sacrifices, or priests, or temples (like the Romans—b/c Jesus was the ultimate one!)…but since Christians only worshipped Jesus—that brought division. sometimes it cut them off from job opportunities, business relationships—and occasionally imprisonment and abuse.
in our society today—worshipping Jesus alone is viewed as intolerant and un-accepting.
one of the things I have noticed over the years—if you really take Jesus’ words to be salt and light and share the Gospel—Jesus has such a dividing effect. sometimes when you share the good news of Christ—it readily attracts and brings people in—but other times—it divides.
people reject him—outright.
and i think that’s normal—Jesus has that dividing effect—because he exposes our sin (that’s humbling), he says He’s the only way to God and eternal life; He calls us to die to ourselves and follow HIm.
but if you know this expectation that’s more than half the battle—b/c you aren’t surprised when people reject Christ and therefore you—but you are also empowered b/c that very message of the Gospel also draws people in by the power of the Holy Spirit—so you can expect people to come to Christ and people not to.
I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago.
Matthew 10:34 NIV
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
he goes on to say that Jesus will be divisive even within your very own people—you may face shunning or exclusion…but don’t be surprised. Jesus said it would happen.
we expect easy relationships as Christians—but Jesus reminds us—it’s not always—but it’s worth it.
3. Expectation #3 — Jesus brings pain in your own heart.
Luke 2:35 NIV
35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Simeon is saying this to Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother.
how did a sword pierce Mary’s heart—this is not literal—but an image.
certainly Mary had some expectation that Jesus was the Messiah—but it was hard for her.
look at Mark 3:20-21
Mark 3:20–21 NIV
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
then look at Mark 3:31-35
Mark 3:31–35 NIV
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
that must have really hurt Mary--
right after this passage—is the passage where Jesus is a boy — 12 years old and they go and visit Jerusalem for the Passover festival. they started back home—and they thought Jesus was with them. they traveled a day and couldn’t find him, so they go back to Jerusalem. after 3 days, they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
look at what Jesus says:
Luke 2:48–50 NIV
48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
most of all, Mary watched her son die on the cross
John 19:25 NIV
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
she did not understand how Jesus had to die—this bloody, horrible death, and she didn’t expect him to rise from the dead.
Mary is just like us. when we accept Jesus—yes it brings peace—(although confession and repentance can be painful—but peace comes—incredible peace)
but there is also warfare—b/c now, we realize we have to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily.
there is a daily death....b/c you are coming to grips with what Jesus wants.
do you wake up everyday thinking “I am just ready to surrender to Jesus today?”
No it takes surrender, and the Holy Spirit to help us do that. there is a daily death of submission to the Lord.
so for a sword to pierce our soul—Jesus brings division with others—and a daily battle of surrender....
this doesn’t mean we should give into self-pity
but it does mean we should have the right expectations...
b/c the ultimate results of these tensions and conflicts is peace and joy.
it’s worth it. when you go through this struggle, and depend on Jesus through it, though it’s hard—it builds a deeper character and maturity in Him.
one writer says this: “I know of a Christian woman who, through a terrible accident, lost the use of her limbs. For a number of years she was very bitter and angry. Then one day she said, “God, I don’t have the right to tell you how to run the universe.” After she broke through to that place, she developed a radiance about her. Once you’ve fought that battle and won, nothing can get you down. A trust developed in her toward Christ. No one should ever seek suffering. But if you do go through suffering and put more trust in him, you will find a kind of indelible joy, strength of character, and power that can come to you in no other way. This kind of fight can lead to immense peace.”
Keller, Timothy. Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ (p. 126). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
these expectations are worth it—why?
and this will take us to communion.
b/c Jesus faced the worst sword for us.
In Genesis, chapter 3— Adam and Eve sinned, and the Bible says that they were kicked out of the Garden. and an angel with a flaming sword was there guarding the way to the tree of life.
this was God’s way of saying— the wages of sin is death.
and the entire OT points to this b/c animal sacrifices, blood, are required for sin—a substitute must bear our sin. something had to come under the sword for us.
one writer says this: What was Jesus doing, then, when he went to the cross? He was paying the penalty for sin; he was going under the sword. It came down on him. “He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished” (Isaiah 53:8).
Let’s not give in to self-pity or cowardice. The sword that passed through Jesus, the battle that he fought for us, was infinitely greater than anything he asks us to endure. And when he faced his final moment, and the sword was descending, he was utterly alone and forsaken, even by the Father (Matthew 27:46). When we walk through our difficulties, however, we are never alone. He always walks there with us. “I will be with thee,thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”4 When Simeon said to Mary, “There’ll be a sword through your soul,” what if Mary had said, “I don’t want a sword in my soul”? What if Jesus had said, “I don’t want a sword in my soul! I don’t want to bring peace that way,” then where would you be? Where would I be? Don’t shrink back. Follow him to peace.
Keller, Timothy. Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ (p. 128). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Keller, Timothy. Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ (pp. 127-128). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
communion
for anyone who is a believer
Luke 22:19–20 NIV
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
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