GAPS – WHEN EXPECTATIONS DON’T MEET REALITY
Where do your expectations and reality not meet?
- Did you expect a different life than you have? A different kind of marriage?
- Did your spouse or a family member die prematurely, leaving you to figure out how to move forward?
- Perhaps you expected healthy children and have either not conceived, or one or more of your children has a disability.
- Perhaps you had a disagreement with a family member or friend and haven’t spoken for a significant amount of time.
- Perhaps you expected to be more successful than you are.
Laura’s memorial was full of hope
She didn’t expect her life to turn out as it had, with severe back pain, an unsuccessful surgery, and years spent bedridden. Her husband ensured her service reflected the faith she and he shared. Toward the end, every time Denny asked, “Do you know where you’re going?”, Laura responded, “I’m going to be with Jesus in heaven.” Her confidence was sure.
Denny shared the eulogy and how he and Laura met. He also sang bass in a male trio and a quintet, with beautiful harmony and rich voices. I was amazed at his ability to express his own hope in these ways.
God Meets us in these Gaps
Our pastor talked Sunday about how God meets us in the gaps – those places where reality and expectations don’t match. See https://www.carolloewen.com/but-god-ii/
Daniel (see the story in Daniel Chapter 6) habitually knelt by his window and prayed three times a day—out in the open, where all could see him. Despite the fact that the Israelites had been taken into captivity in Babylon, God gave Daniel wisdom and favor with the king. Daniel became the most distinguished of three leaders over 120 provincial governors.
But others were jealous and plotted against him. They knew they couldn’t find anything against him unless it had to do with his relationship with his God. So they appealed to King Darius’ ego.
The Gap Trap is Set
“Establish this rule,” they said. “You are so great. No one is to petition anyone except you for the next thirty days. If they do, they will be thrown into the lions’ den.” (some punishment!)
Once the king signed the law, not even he could change it.
He went back to his house, knelt and prayed at his window, just as he always had. He could have compromised, prayed in his closet, or taken a break from seeking God. But he didn’t. That took both courage and trust in God’s faithfulness.
King Darius Hates the Gap Trap
When Darius realized a trap had been set for Daniel, he tried all day to get out of following his own law. But the leaders wouldn’t let him. As Daniel was about to be thrown into that pit of hungry, raging predators, the king said,
May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you! Daniel 6:16
And with that, Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den. Scripture doesn’t tell us how he felt at that moment. Was he afraid? I can’t imagine he was not. But he was faithful to God.
And the king? His stomach heaved. His heart groaned. He couldn’t sleep or eat that night. His best leader, the one next to him, was probably being torn to shreds by those hungry lions.
God Uses the Gaps to Show His Glory
As soon as it was daylight, King Darius rushed to the lions’ den. In anguish, he called to Daniel.
Has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions? Daniel 6:20
My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong. Daniel 6:21
Darius immediately commanded Daniel to be released, and threw Daniel’s tormentors into the lions’ den, where they were quickly consumed.
And because King Darius saw that God had protected Daniel, who openly served and prayed to him, the king decreed to his entire kingdom that Daniel’s God should be honored in all the land.
If Daniel had just continued in favor with the king without that gap between expectations (I’m in a high position, serving king and country) and reality (I’m thrown to the lions), the king might never have proclaimed publicly that Daniel’s God was the true God.
Our response to the gaps we face is an opportunity to display the grace of God
When my dreams are shattered, do I react out of my own brokenness, fear, fatigue, anger, pain?
Or am I able to say “What now, God? What will you teach me in this season?” Do I trust God to give me something in the gap?
Not always easy. After my first husband passed away, a well-meaning woman asked what God was teaching me. I was floored. At that moment I was simply grieving. My expectations of a long life with him didn’t meet reality. I responded, “He’s holding me.”
Later, I was able to reflect on God’s faithfulness through Jerry’s illness and passing.
There are tragedies, both personal and communal, all around us.
- The tragic fires In Maui
- Tropical storm Idalia
- Persecution of Christians and other faith or ethnic groups
It’s often in the gaps that we learn to let God deal with the situation rather than trying to figure it out on our own. Trust is a learned, developed muscle.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1