When Expectations Fail
When I was in college I read a book “The Shadow of the Almighty” by Elizabeth Elliott. It told the story of Jim Elliott, a young missionary who prepared to reach a people group in the jungles of Ecuador with the gospel who remained isolated. The story is told through his own journal entries, revealing a man with a profound understanding of the gospel and a heart deeply in love with the Lord. His prayers and his insights are incredibly inspiring. He was well aware of the dangers of his venture and wrote things like, “he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” It inspired me as a young believer. When I started reading the book, I didn’t know how it would end. As much time and energy that he spent preparing his heart for such an adventure stirred an expectation for life changing results.
What of their team members, Nate Saint, was a pilot and they began their preparations by flying over the area and dropping items down as gifts for the people. Eventually, they would land and make their first contact, hoping that that the frequent gifts would soften their entry and earn them an introduction to the tribe. Finally, that day came and they left with great expectations. But the plane never returned. They were killed by the tribe on the day they arrived. It was a shock to read just as it was a shock to his young wife and daughter. How would they respond to such failed expectations?
In America we have, for the most part, lived comfortable lives, particularly those in the church. Until recently, culture has looked favorably upon those who call themselves Christian. But sometimes, life takes a turn for the worse and life doesn’t work out as expected. Good people come down with unexpected illnesses. Jobs are unexpectedly lost. A child dies. What do you do when your expectations are suddenly shattered?
That is what this Psalm is facing.