When Christ Doesn’t Fit Our Expectations

by Jennifer Slattery

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Isaiah 53:3 NASB

Years ago, in the middle of a crisis, God challenged me to consider how deep my loyalties lay. I needed to consider who He truly was to me. Would I treat Him as a Genie or a motivational guru who offered plithy words of affirmation when I needed an emotional boost, or would I live as if He truly was my Lord?

This was about thirteen years ago, during what I term my “Louisiana experience,” when God’s healing work within me intensified in a way that left me reeling. I felt as if I was reliving key, devastating moments, free-falling into some of my greatest fears.

I wanted Him to fix my circumstances–immediately. To save our house, save our finances, and really, our way of life.

But Christ wanted to fix my soul. So, in the middle of my desperate prayers, He asked, “Do you love Me now?”

In other words, “If I don’t answer your prayers as you hope, will you still choose Me?” He was challenging me to evaluate my expectations and toss them, if need be.

Some 2,000 years ago, the men and women of Nazareth faced a similar choice. Would they accept that Jesus, their neighbor and friend, was the long-promised Messiah? They must’ve heard about all the miracles He’d performed. How He’d healed people of their diseases, cast out demons, and even raised a dead girl to life. The people were amazed by all He did and said, until He made it clear, He wasn’t just a prophet or well-spoken teacher. He wasn’t just Someone out to better their day. He was God’s anointed Savior, His Son, with the full authority that entailed.

In the synagogue at Nazareth, He read from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor …Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:18-19, 21 NIV).

Granted, the Jews wanted a Savior; just not the One standing before them. No. They wanted a much more regal, more prestigious, and more political, less … rustic Messiah. And so they scoffed, rejecting the freedom Christ offered because it didn’t come packaged as they’d expected.

I’m no so different from them. While I’ve accepted God’s free gift of salvation, there’ve been times when I’ve resisted His Spirit. I’ve learned, however, after stumbling down numerous exhausting dead ends, that His is the only path that leads to freedom. He truly did come to bring good news to the poor and freedom for the oppressed and enslaved.

What Jesus read to the people in that Nazarene synagogue some 2,000 years ago, was a prophecy given during a dark time in Israel’s history. After a short period of revival, the people had once again slipped into idolatry. God warned them, again and again, if they didn’t repent, judgment would come. But even then, God wouldn’t abandon them forever. Life wouldn’t always be hard and painful; eventually, jubilee, a day of joy and freedom, would come.

God makes that same promise to us. Whether we’re suffering the consequences of our sin or perhaps sin that’s been done to us, we can trust good will come. His heart is for us always. When we remember that He truly did come to set the captive free, we’ll find it easier to surrender to His lead, even when His plans or methods don’t match our temporary expectations.   

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Faith Over Fear (podcast) - Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey and Shellie  Arnold | Listen Notes

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: Have your expectations of God ever let you down?

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