Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Expectations and Hope -- Expectations Produce Confusion

If there is a belief system that projects a God who always wants His children to be healthy then it is reasonable to have an expectation for healing when ill. Although this belief system is very much propagated in large Christian circles today, we all know cases where healing has not come. In these cases we have two options: either God has failed or there is something wrong with the person (which leads back to shame).

In this type of belief system expectations of healing are more times than not met with disappointment at best and disenfranchised at worse. If God does not heal, discouragement is your best results, disillusionment with God is next, and repugnance is just around the corner.

When healing is expected and doesn’t come shame is embedded deeper and a disappointment in God infects the spirit. When shame and disappointment are bred together the results is a lack of trust. If illness is caused by an attack of Satan and his demons and that person is not healed we are left with a God who is too weak to defeat Satan and demons. If illness is a result of personal sinfulness and upon repentance that person is not healed we are left with a God who does not forgive. No matter what causes illness if we always expect God to heal and He fails one time we cannot trust Him, totally.

Job’s friends were of the mindset that the reason Job was suffering was because he somehow had sinned against God. If you read their words of “comfort” to Job you will find blame and shame. The reason is because in their belief system either God was wrong in allowing Job to suffer in his righteousness (and God can’t be wrong) or Job was wrong somewhere in his relationship with God. Their belief system had boxed them in and there was no other way out.

When faced with this belief system some people will hold to the righteousness of God while others will “lose” their faith in God. Some spend a lifetime of suffering in shame while continuing to worship God. Others let the shame turn them away from worshiping God. Yet, in either case it is not God that they are holding on to or departing from. It is their belief system about God. Maybe their belief system is skewed.

The expectation belief system is probably injected into most, if not all, American Christian belief systems. Some are injected with massive doses of expectations and others with minute amounts. I say this because in all walks of Christianity, that I have been around, there is always the prayer and encouragement for healing for the one who is struggling with health issues. We seem to be uncomfortable with the reality that the physical body is an earthen vessel that fails. We are definitely uneasy with the fact “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable….this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Cor 15:50, 53) If we could live perfectly healthy lives wouldn’t the same outcome of death still await us? And isn’t physical death an outcome of our earthen tent being torn down?

Now, I’m not saying that prayers and encouragement for healing are wrong. I pray for healing every day, for myself and others. But when our every prayer concerning physical health is healing it may indicate a default belief setting about health and healing that can create expectations. To illustrate my point: if the “thorn in the flesh” that Paul experienced in 2 Corinthians 12 was a physical ailment of some kind, he said he prayed for healing three times and God’s answer was to stop praying for healing because His grace was sufficient in Paul’s weakness. Can you imagine Paul in a typical prayer meeting today in America? He might share concerning his “thorn in the flesh” and then might say something like, “Please don’t pray for healing for that would be praying against what God’s desire is for me. Pray that I learn and live out how God’s grace is sufficient in my weakness.”

I think that would probably be a short prayer meeting. We would try to instruct Paul that surely God wants him to be healed so that he could testify of God’s miraculous healing power. Besides that, Paul, just think of how much more you could do for the Lord if you didn’t have this “thorn in the flesh” holding you back.

Since we almost always pray for physical healing might there be at least a subconscious belief system that would lead us to have an expectation of God that might not be of God at all? It seems to me that Biblical hope is totally different than human expectation. Biblical hope is based on the truth of God while human expectation is based on a belief system that has been formulated about God. In some cases, in my life, I have discovered that it is like the difference between the person of Jesus in the Gospels (truth) and the Pharisees (my belief system about God). The truth confronts my beliefs and hope confronts my expectations.

Biblical hope is a deep faith in Who God is regardless of what happens. Expectations live in a lie, make believe world, fantasy. Hope lives in reality and truth. Hope is founded on the assurance of truth. Expectation is founded on what I want to happen. Hope produces faith. Expectations produce confusion.

Hang with me on these thoughts. Comments are welcome.

More to come later.

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