Sometimes people of God struggle with disappointment. Things don’t always turn out the way we expect. Could it be that our disappointment comes from unrealistic expectations more than unsatisfying experiences?
I have been studying an exchange between Peter and Jesus.
“Peter began to say to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the Gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life’” (Mark 10:28-30).
At first, it seems that Jesus is affirming Peter’s expectations; yet, upon careful reflection, we can see that Jesus is gently, but firmly, pressing back at Peter. Peter has some unrealistic expectations about what a follower of Jesus will experience.
Jesus teaches us to expect the following when we live our lives as fully devoted disciples:
1. Expect to receive from the Lord far more than you give to the Lord. He will provide for your needs and bless you abundantly beyond any sacrifice you might make. Sometimes we are like the grumbling Hebrew children in the wilderness. We imagine that our lives in bondage were always sunny and safe. What did you leave to follow Jesus, really?
2. Expect to honor Jesus Christ and to advance His Gospel. Notice how Jesus pushes back on Peter’s self-interest by reminding him of the reason he left his father’s fishing boat in the first place. We are living for His sake; our goal is His glory, not our gain. If you live life as a fully-devoted disciple of Jesus, if you live with a single-minded pursuit of His glory and His Gospel advance, you will achieve your ambitions.
3. Expect persecutions. Jesus tells Peter the truth. To follow Me is to join in My sufferings. “Along with persecutions,” reminds us that the One we are following is the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief.
4. Expect a full reward in the age to come. Glory!
Dear brother or sister, if you will embrace this life of service with these simple biblical expectations, you will hedge against dark disappointments.
Peter spent a lifetime reflecting on this encounter with Jesus. You can hear the echo when you read his letter in the New Testament.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share in the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Pet. 4:12-13).