When we do everything God has told us to do, we expect a certain outcome. I, for one, expect a positive outcome. I expect tangible, clear, good things.
But that’s not always what I get. It’s not always what anyone gets. Not at first.
David was anointed king, obeyed God, fought for Israel, submitted to the current king, then faced that king’s wrath and inconsistencies. King Saul in one moment called David to play his harp for him and called David his son. Literally, in the next moment, he threw his spear at David. Then he had his army pursue David. All David had done was obey the Lord.
And Paul obeyed the Lord. He laid down all his accolades and reputation as a Pharisee — a highly respected position. He had his share of good things after that. He saw people saved, he saw healings, he saw churches planted. Exciting stuff. But he also saw beatings, persecutions, scoffers, and prison. His obedience to the Lord earned him an eternity with Jesus, yet it earned him an earthly lifetime of pain.
Speaking of Jesus, His obedience led Him straight to the cross. He lived His days on earth in humility. For 30 years, His time was spent in His parents’ home, living a quiet life. Then it was time. The Holy Spirit led Him into three years of incredible ministry. His friends were sure of an amazing end. Jesus would be king, He would free them from bondage. Life would be grand. But, no. He died, humiliated on the cross.
David, Paul, Jesus, and plenty of others in the scriptures and in history followed and obeyed God, our Heavenly Father. They laid down their rights, their plans, their expectations, their lives. And it didn’t always look real good. It led them straight into calamity, doubt, real pain, betrayals by friends and loved ones.
But that wasn’t and isn’t the end of the story. David did become king. Paul gained the prize for which he was running the race. And Jesus overcame and conquered death, rising from the grave, gaining the ultimate victory.
When I follow God, obeying Him in everything, I expect a certain outcome. I don’t think my expectations for good things are wrong. Like for David, the promise will be fulfilled. And like Paul, my hope will be realized. Like Jesus, I will rise with His life.
But right now, I might be facing a spear. I might be losing my reputation. I might be facing a cross. When I say, “Yes, Lord,” those aren’t the things I have in mind. Those aren’t my expectations. So sometimes I stumble. I cry out in my pain. I struggle with doubt.
Yet, while this might be the season I’m in, it isn’t the end of my story. God fulfills His promises. He satisfies hope. He gives life. I can keep these expectations. For a little while, we suffer, but in the end, the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us (1 Peter 5:10).