The boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” That’s how I feel about this fall. I had hoped that things would start to get back to normal by September. After all, people have been getting vaccinated, and many of the COVID-19 precautions we had been practicing over the past year, from social distancing to face masks, were shifting from required to recommended. I had also hoped that the start of the fall school year would be a reset, allowing former plans put on hold to now be possible. But with the rise of the Delta variant and the Delta plus and as many of our children and the unvaccinated are now contracting the virus, I am realizing that all my hopes and dreams for the fall are slipping through my fingers.
That trip my family had planned for later this month is now canceled.
Meeting up with local friends in person will have to continue virtually.
Inviting our neighbors over for a barbeque and watching that Sunday football game will have to wait.
Going back to regular Sunday morning services won’t be happening any time soon.
Taking my children to the library and other indoor places will still not be part of our daily rhythms.
I’ll have to get a refund for that new sports club I signed my kids up for.
This past year has been hard enough, but what makes the fall especially hard is the reality of unmet expectations. We could see the possibility of normality on the horizon before we lost it again, and that lost dream feels like a sucker punch. My heart aches for what could be and the knowledge of what has been lost. I grieve for what I could be doing or what my family should be doing right now.
But God meets me in the grief of my unmet expectations. He does not chide me for desiring good things in the midst of a pandemic, but He does challenge me to desire Him more.
Throughout Scripture, we see the people of God continually battling unmet expectations. Hannah and Rachel’s desires for children initially go unanswered. God rejects King David’s desire to build a temple. Moses’ hope to see the Promised Land goes unfulfilled. In each of these instances, God doesn’t correct His people for having longings and dreams; rather, He comforts them with His presence and reminds them that He is enough.
Sometimes we worry and stress over what we don’t have. It’s easier to complain and get angry for the doors that have been shut than practice gratitude for what we do have. But in our unmet expectations, God refines us, asking us to wait and trust that His timing is perfect. Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, God longs for us to say to Him, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus did not want to die. He even asked God to make a different path possible for salvation. However, when that request was denied, He did not lose heart because His ultimate desire was to please His Abba Father. Jesus brought every desire under the authority of His ultimate desire, which was to glorify God.
So, how can we glorify God right now in the midst of this pandemic? How can we bring our every desire captive and trust in God’s timing, even when that means continuing to wait and defer our dreams?
Our best way to cope and even thrive this fall and throughout the rest of the Covid-19 pandemic is to simplify our desires down to one — to please God. That way, whether our specific dream takes place or not, we can still have joy and delight in the present moment because our main desire is to please God. No matter what happens this fall, no matter if we remain in person or go back to virtual gatherings, no matter if the coronavirus flares up again or begins to dwindle down, we can guard our thoughts and emotions by keeping away “anything that might take God’s place in your hearts” (1 John 5:21 NLT).
Ultimately, God is greater than any vacation. God is sweeter than any gathering. God is better than any class or trip or new venture. Yes, there is space to grieve. Yes, there is space to name what is lost. But let’s also trust God in His good and perfect timing for all things. Let’s focus on how we can glorify God right now, even in the midst of unmet expectations.Leave a Comment