Monday, April 7, 2008


Fuming over the past month's disappointments cost me $600 this morning--paid out to my dentist to treat stress-aggravated gum inflammation. A sore mouth is by no means the worst thing that a "why me?" attitude can do to your health. Back in 1944, the book Stop Worrying and Get Well described how fretting feeds everything from colds to rheumatism to diabetes; advances in medical science have since only confirmed that, while "stressing out" has never added an hour to anyone's life (cf. Mt. 6:27), it can easily take hours off our lives.

For me at least, one of the easiest ways to get upset is to set my heart on something and then see things refuse to go according to plan. Often, things don't even have to actually go wrong--the fear that they might does enough damage on its own. If we built physical idols today, the inscription on my favorite would read, "Satisfied Expectations."

And, like all idols, expectations disappoint us. When that happens, we can wail over the unfairness of life, turn surly and punish innocent bystanders, shake our fists at God--or swallow some much-needed humble pie and ask, "Lord, what do You want me to learn from this? What better thing do You have for me than what I was hoping for?"

He may not answer clearly or immediately. But merely making the effort to submit ourselves to His will, rather than fighting it, will lower our stress levels.

And besides benefiting our physical health, it will do wonders for our spiritual health.

We all have our expectations
About what we will do or be,
But God has plans of His own kind,
And they come unexpectedly.

When you see your expectations
Interrupted or shoved aside,
Do you fume at the inconvenience,
Or demand your own way in pride?

Why not see it as God's timing?
Why not welcome the things He sends?
Don't swear at His interruptions;
Learn to take them from Him as friends!

For greater than expectations
Ever formed by the human heart,
Is our Lord's greater purpose for us,
In which each small thing plays a part.

And greater than we can hope for
From the world where we live today,
Are the things He has waiting for us,
Better than any tongue can say.

But if we wish to be ready
For that Kingdom which He prepares,
We must let Him remake us for it;
We must trust that He knows and cares.

And when our own expectations
Are different from that which He knows
Will make us in Christ's perfect image--
Then He must do away with those.

But with every expectation
That He crushes into the dust,
He gives us something better for it--
As we see when we learn to trust.

We all have our expectations
About what we will do or be,
But our Lord's unexpected-ations
Bless us so unexpectedly!

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