Expectations, Faith

Expectations: When All Is Not Well

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

“Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You.”

This line comes from one of my most-favorite-est songs, “It is Well,” (click the link to listen) by Kristene DeMarco. But, this line challenges me. Do I really live it?

When we miscarried our only pregnancy, my heart shattered. The dream of being a mom to that baby . . .

. . . of carrying our child to term, feeling the kicks, 

. . . of one day meeting him or her . . . 

. . . of becoming a mom . . . 

It was gone. With the ceasing of a heartbeat.

My expectations of God—of Him bringing this dream to life—were also shattered.

The Sunday after the miscarriage, Hubs and I sat in church. I don’t know when worship was so hard as on that morning. I couldn’t sing the songs and mean them. And, somewhere in the worship set, the hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul,” came up. 

Soul-deep pain clamped my mouth shut. I couldn’t sing those words.

God reminded me of the story of the song’s author, Horatio Spafford. Of how he lost his four daughters on a sea voyage. And yet, he could pen those words.

I wanted to withhold worship from the Lord. He allowed our baby to die. 

He didn’t do as I had expected.

Heartache swirls around me right now. Friends and loved ones with cancer diagnoses. 

Friends who doubt God’s love for them because life’s circumstances blind them to this truth.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this: I try to live my life in a way that glorifies God. In turn, I trip into the belief He will help me by letting things go the way I want them to.

But, let’s face it. God’s love for us sometimes doesn’t line up with what we think love looks like. He isn’t confined to the boxes we try to place Him in. When God doesn’t conform to our expectations, what do we do with that?

We always, always have a choice to make.  

Three things we can do when God doesn’t meet our expectations:

1. Adjust our expectations. I have this unhealthy habit of believing my plans for my life are the best plans. They usually include a minimum of pain and inconvenience. Lots of comfort. And total control.

God rarely factors these elements into His plans for me, for us. He’s more concerned about us growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, about us reflecting Him from the inside to our outer world. This often means our expectations will either harden us or bring us to a place of yielding to Him. 

When we adjust our expectations we choose His plans over ours, even when the circumstances hurt or don’t make sense. But, He also walks closely with us, when we choose His way over ours.

2. Look for God to show up in the midst of our disappointment, our hard seasons. He always walks with us, even when—perhaps especially when—things have not gone the way we thought they would or should. It’s when we look for Him—when we choose to lean on Him—that we can best know His comfort and His presence.

3. Worship. When we choose to worship God anyway, even when things in our life don’t go as we expected? That’s when we can know God’s pleasure, the intimacy of His presence, and His love.

When we worship God from our hearts, in the midst of our pain, we’re yielding our plans to His. We acknowledge that He is God, and He is good . . . even when it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. 

When we bring our brokenness, our tears, to Him in worship . . .

. . . when we choose to trust Him even when we don’t understand the whys of the hard season . . . 

. . . then we begin to look more like Jesus. 

We become a brighter light and a comfort to others walking through disappointment and hardship.

That Sunday morning, as “It Is Well With My Soul” played over the speakers in our sanctuary, I chose to lift my voice to my Father, agreeing with Him that it was—or it could be—well with my soul.

And that’s when He began healing my heart.

What about you? When have you had to come to terms with unmet expectations? When has God met you in a place of disappointment?

Click to Tweet:  He always walks with us, even when things have not gone the way we thought they should.

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, and Holley Gerth

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37 thoughts on “Expectations: When All Is Not Well”

  1. I think I was lucky, that I learned early that expectations are what they now call a ‘first world problem’; Go to Columbia in an area controlled by FARC, and survival can be a blessing.

    So, terminal cancer…I’d rather not have it, I guess, but that preference means nothing, and what means everything is how I deal with it, how I keep the faith when God seems far away.

    Can’t say I really worship, at least not in a recognizable way. I endure, and wait for the dawn, and I have faith that He IS the dawn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, you’re so right. I never thought about expectations as a first-world problem. Such an eye-opening perspective. Your thoughts on your mindset in dealing with cancer . . . yes. And worship (as you probably know) isn’t just standing in a church Sunday morning and singing the songs. We worship with our lives. We worship when we acknowledge that God is God and we are not. I believe you worship in how you care for your dog-kids and your wife. How you pour out yourself to those in your blogging community.

      I’m praying for you, friend.

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  2. Jeanne,
    Sometimes I can be the queen of “Great Expectations” – and I don’t mean the book. I have high expectations on myself and tend to project those outward onto others which isn’t fair. I also tend to get my hopes up on what I want only to have them dashed because it doesn’t happen they way I want it to. It takes great faith to say,”It is well with my soul” when none of our expectations have been met. It’s hard for me to remember I have Christ and my salvation….everything else is icing on the top. I am continually in the process of trying to lose the expectations on people and circumstances. Great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, you and me both. Co-Queens of Great Expectations. God has had to talk with me so many times about where my expectations are placed. And, He’s had to pick me up off the ground when I sank there in deep disappointment after a great expectation went unmet.

      Thanks for the reminder that the most important thing we have is Jesus and the gift of salvation He’s given us. May we both grow in releasing expectations of God and others.

      So thankful for your honest here, friend!

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    1. Aaron, thank you for your words. Infertility is HARD. The beautiful thing is God walked with us along every step of our journey. He taught us so much about Himself and He continually showed His faithfulness and offered His comfort. I sometimes say I’d never want to walk it again, but I wouldn’t trade our years in that desert.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate your honesty about the heartbreaking loss of your child. Your suggestions for moving through the losses in our lives are very helpful. I do believe God is good and moves to bring about our greater good. Sometimes this is hard to see when the suffering is great. So I repeat Romans 5:8 to myself over and over. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Bless you, Jeanne!

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    1. Melissa, I agree with you. God is always good. Even when it may not seem true in the moment. He is always about bringing about our greater good, conforming us into the image of His Son, and helping us to become more like Him. I love that verse! Thanks for sharing it here. And thank you so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, I understand the weeping, even when it is well with our soul. When we can take on an eternal perspective, those words can be easier to say and to sing. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart here, friend.

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  4. I have always heard that if you want to hear God laugh, then show Him your carefully laid out plans. He made us for a purpose and he will guide us along that purpose as long as we are willing. Sometime it takes that hardship or disappointment to refocus on out path. Even when we can seem to put one step in front of the other God is there to carry us. I a deeply sorry for you loss but I sincerely believe God could see way ahead of you and the baby and needed to take this step. And it doesn’t make sense to us as we know he creates all things. We just have to trust his plan. May He bless you in all you do.

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    1. Anita, I’ve heard that too. I’m sure it’s an indulgent, grand-father kind of laughter, with a gentle shake of His head. 😉 You’re right. God has a purpose for each of us. I believe He allows hardship and disappointment into our lives to help us turn to Him. He always has a way of showing His faithfulness and His love, especially when we seek Him in those seasons. God knew the plans He had for our family, and He gifted us with two amazing boys we were privileged to adopt. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I’m not saying that’s why He allowed our first baby to go to heaven before coming into our arms, but I do know He brought much good from that season of our lives. He revealed so much of Himself to us, and He taught us what it truly meant to worship Him. And He gave us greater empathy for others walking through struggles. Thank you so much for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeanne, this is a beautiful post. In my times of greatest pain, when I pushed myself to worship Him, I found that He met me in the midst of my pain every time. This is such a wise reminder and I am grateful to have read it tonight. Blessings!

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    1. Joanne, thank you. I’ve had the same experience. When I’ve chosen to worship Him in spite of painful circumstances, He’s met me there too. Thank you for sharing a bit of your experience, and for stopping by!

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  6. Hi Jeanne! So glad to return here to read your faith-filled words of courage and love. “Look for God to show up in the midst of our disappointment, our hard seasons.” I know He’s been a constant presence in the pit of despair when a few years ago, my family was struggling with something so painful. We couldn’t understand why the pain was so real and so long-withstanding…but as far as the road seemed, now years later, we’re thankful for that season. It’s when we really saw the hand of God work mercifully in our lives. And in the smallest of things, He’s there too! Thank you.

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    1. Awww, Erendira, it’s sooo good to see you! God is pretty amazing, isn’t He? I’m so thankful He meets us in the pain, our disappointment, and He dwells with us. I’m so sorry your family went through such a difficult season. I suspect God worked some amazing things in your hearts as you walked through and came out on the other side of that time in your family’s life. Looking back on hard seasons can give us a fuller perspective of just how present God was in the hard, can’t it? Thank you for sharing your words here, friend.

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  7. I help out at a women’s emergency accommodation centre and always so amazed by the faith these women have even when life is so full of heart breaking stuff. God’s definitely a heart healer and changer, and peace to our souls.

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  8. In my mind, the word expectation is always followed by the word disappointment–it’s such a balancing act to hope and pray for big things and still to hold them loosely so that they do not become entitlements.
    I really appreciate the way you framed this post to honor the sovereignty of God.

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  9. Thank you for sharing your story so bravely! We all have those tender places where we’ve felt heartbroken and disappointed, but you didn’t stay in that place. Your tip to worship our way out of the heartbreak is my favorite. There is something powerful that happens when we choose faith over our feelings.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Rebecca. Though the story actually took place years ago, the memories and the lessons learned have stayed with me. It’s amazing what God can do in our hearts when we choose worship, isn’ it? Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  10. Jeanne, I am so sorry to read about your miscarriage. Thank you for turning one of the most painful events of your life into a wonderful reminder that, while God does not promise us an easy life, He does promise to be there for us during good times and bad.

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    1. Laurie, thank you. God has a way of bringing beauty from heartbreak when we offer it to Him, doesn’t He? And you’re right. God doesn’t promise us an easy life (He said the rain falls on the just and the unjust), But He does walk with us through all of the ups and downs. Thanks so much for visiting!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. As hard as it can sometimes feel – what a wonderful (and comforting) truth that God is more interested in my growing in grace and knowledge….and conforming me to His image. Oh, how often do I need to adjust my expectations! Thanks for sharing part of your story with such a helpful truth –

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  12. I’m so sorry heartaches surround you, past and present, Jeanne. I love your reflections. The insightful advice that struck me most is that God is “more concerned about us growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, about us reflecting Him from the inside to our outer world.” Such a great reminder we can lose sight of at times. I love the song, too. I especially identify with these lines, “Let go, my soul, and trust in Him.” Thank you for all this encouragement! I’m praying right now that God will hold you up! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Thank you, sweet Trudy. God uses the heartaches in our lives to draw us closer to Him and to help us better reflect Him, doesn’t He? When the hard seasons hit, when the emotions try to overwhelm us, it’s so easy to forget that God is working in the midst of them. We just need to keep our eyes on Him, right? So glad you also love that song! And thank you for your prayers. God is so faithful! Love and hugs back, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Ah, Jeanne … expectations! I’ve had to learn to hold them loosely … again and again! So much hard-fought wisdom wrapped up in this post, my friend. Thank you for sharing from this tender season of your life …

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    1. Awww, sweet friend. You walked with me through some of that season. And I know you’re getting your own practice in looking for God in the hard seasons now. Thank you for your sweet words here and your priceless friendship! Praying for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All my love, dear one! So thankful for you and that we’re a part of the great community of faith. God is good and I am grateful for our many years of friendship! 🙂

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  14. You are not alone. What you faced in your journey of infertility is your story, but God’s redemption is one that we can relate to. Singing “It is Well with my Soul” when nothing feels “well” is so difficult. Your three ways of changing perspective are perfect because it takes the focus off of the problem and puts it on the problem solver-God.

    You have a beautiful way of writing and sharing so openly. Thank you for your sharing your sweet heart and allowing us to journey with you.

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    1. Mary, we each have our own stories, don’t we? And God brushes redemption over each of them. Yes, taking the focus off of ourselves is key, isn’t it? Thank you for your words of encouragement, my friend. I love journeying with others!

      Liked by 1 person

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