Putting Our Expectations in the Right Place



“This is not how I thought my marriage would go,” Leah must have said. “I expected my husband to love and cherish me. Instead, he loves someone else much more than me.”

Poor Leah. Her story can be found in Genesis 29. “The other woman” was Leah’s younger sister Rachel. Modern-day soap operas have nothing on some of the real-life dramas found in the Bible!

My heart went out to Leah as I read of her plan to secure her husband Jacob’s love and devotion: “I will give him children, and then he will love me!” Isn’t that what we often do? Life doesn’t go as planned, so we work up our own plans to make it go according to our expectations. 

“Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben [meaning, “See, a son!”], for she said, ‘Because the Lord has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.’ Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, ‘Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.’ So she named him Simeon [meaning, “hearing”]. She conceived again and bore a son and said, ‘Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ Therefore he was named Levi [meaning “attached”]. And she conceived again and bore a son and said, ‘This time I will praise the Lord.’ Therefore she named him Judah [meaning “praised, celebrated”]” (Genesis 29:32-35, NASB).

Leah’s struggle contains some relatable truths:

We all carry expectations in life.

Leah had expectations about her marriage. Many of us harbor expectations about relationships, careers, and activities in which we participate. We anticipate that life will play out a certain way, thinking most likely it will. When it doesn’t, we cry out like Job, “Where now is my hope?” (Job 17:15, NASB).

We must look beyond ourselves, our plans, and our expectations in order find the Lord.

Leah tried to secure her husband’s love in her own strength. With the birth of each subsequent child, she hoped to garner Jacob’s affection. You can see her expectations in her children’s names: “See [Jacob], a child!” “God is hearing my plea, won’t you?!” “Please, become attached to me!” When her efforts did not achieve her desired goals, she finally said, “I will praise the Lord.”

I can just imagine Leah letting go of her expectations and seizing the greater reality: “The Lord deserves my attention and praise! My life is in Him and about Him.” I am certain the Lord met Leah in the middle of her expectations and made Himself known to her there. He must have whispered to her as He does to all of us, “Be still (literally, cease striving), and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NASB).

When we get to that place, knowing and loving God overrides our other desires as we realize how much He knows and loves us. He becomes our reliable Father and Friend in an uncertain world.

Real hope is found in the Lord. 

Psalm 42:5, NASB, says, “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”  I think Leah discovered that truth in her personal struggles. God met her there. God’s presence became real in her unexpected place. HE became her greatest joy and desire. She transferred her expectations from her husband to the Lord, and she chose praise over sorrow.

Life’s disappointments and unexpected events are not meant to maim us. They are meant to claim us for God’s kingdom and His purposes, instead of worldly pursuits. When that happens, we experience delight in the Lord and His will.

Even when we can’t see it, God is doing something. He was working in and through Leah, even though she couldn’t see the whole picture. Each one of her sons became a tribe of Israel. And Judah? He held a special place in the family . . . Jesus eventually descended from the tribe of Judah.

Our expectation is from the Lord (Psalm 62:5, KJV). Often, it takes unmet expectations to realize that important truth.

A:        What is the Lord teaching you about Himself in the midst of your unmet expectations? (Comment at the link below.)

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