“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.’” Luke 1:30 (NIV)
Expectations and I … let’s just say we’re closely acquainted. For each birthday, vacation or holiday, I have in mind exactly the way I want things to go — and when they don’t? That’s where God has been teaching me how to deal with disappointment, beginning with Mary, the mother of Jesus.
With Christmas around the corner, I see in Mary three ways to overcome disappointment in our own lives, even after the holidays are gone.
1. Don’t build expectations on someone.
For Mary, once she learned she was carrying the Messiah, she could have built expectations on her fiancé, Joseph. She would need assistance to fulfill this God-sized plan, but for all she knew, Joseph would leave her once he learned she was pregnant.
When Mary responded to the angel, she said, “I am the Lord’s servant” (Luke 1:38a, NIV). The only person’s reaction Mary could control was her own. To obey and follow through, she needed to keep her focus on God, not on whether or not Joseph would stay.
As we anticipate the coming of Christmas, let’s be intentional to position our expectancy on the only One who will never fail us — Jesus. The people around us are not capable of perfection. They can and will disappoint us, even if they don’t intend to.
If disappointment comes our way this year, we can remind ourselves: We’re all human, and only our perfect Father will never disappoint us.
2. Don’t build expectations on something.
The angel made it clear that Mary had “found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). Yet how would this “favor” impact her life, especially her reputation? If Mary set her expectations on something, like her reputation or a flawlessly executed plan, she could have been disappointed.
The set-up for something to not go right around the holidays is perfect. Tension can be high. Wanting everything “just right” brings stress. Too many people in too little space can cause even the most patient person to lose it.
Chances are no matter how well we plan, something won’t go as planned. Why not plan for that? Prepare for something to not turn out. Then, we can plan to overcome disappointment by pre-deciding to enjoy what is good instead of what’s not.
3. Don’t build expectations on someplace.
Mary actually left home, where we are usually most comfortable, once she received her news.
Each of us has a someplace we would prefer to celebrate Christ’s birthday, a place that says, “You belong. This is home.”
Mary may or may not have had that type of home. She was, though, exactly where she needed to be as she followed God’s new assignment for her.
Whether we’re excited or disappointed about where we’ll be this Christmas, let’s see it as our assignment to bring Christ there.
Whether or not Mary experienced disappointment in her journey, or whether she completely understood what an honor it was, she chose to embrace the new twist God had brought into her life.
There have been so many times in my life when, through my disappointment, I stood at a crossroads. As a mom when my kids made mistakes, as a professional when my work has been rejected, and even the one Christmas when we moved 1,000 miles away. In each of these situations, disappointment brought an opportunity for my own maturing.
As I grow, I’m desperately trying to follow Mary’s lead, learning God can use disappointment to develop a confidence in me that’s not built on people, positions or places. Someone, something or someplace will all let us down at some point. If we build our expectations and confidence on Christ alone, when disappointment surely comes, neither our holidays nor our lives will be derailed.
Dear Jesus, may my expectations this Christmas be in You alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
1 Peter 5:10, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (NIV)
John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)
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Disappointment is a normal part of life, yet it is something that can strip us of our confidence in Christ. For help in overcoming disappointments in your life, stop by our bookstore here to purchase Lynn Cowell’s Bible study, Make Your Move: Finding Unshakable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures.
For a printable reminder of these three tips from Mary, click HERE to download from Lynn's blog.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
What plans do you already have in place for the holidays where disappointment could take place? Pre-decide to enjoy what is good instead of what’s not.
Join the conversation! We’d love to hear your thoughts about today’s devotion.
© 2019 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.