We are reading the Bible through together this year, using the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan published by the Navigators. You can download it free of charge from: https://www.navigators.org/resource/bible-reading-plans/
Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 14:22-36; Acts 20:13-38; Psalm 34, Exodus 30-31.
One of the greatest causes of the breakdown in relationships is unspoken expectations. We assume another person holds a certain attitude, opinion or outlook, or we thought they would or should respond a certain way under certain conditions – and when they don’t, we feel betrayed. There isn’t an actual betray mind you, but our assumptions and expectations were contradicted, and it feels like betrayal. And this same dynamic can be at work in our relationship with God in Christ.
The Psalmist in Psalm 73 wrestles with this issue, and by his own admission, it almost derailed him. He saw the wicked prospering and the righteous suffering and he thought to himself: Psalm 73:13–14 “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.” I’m the one obeying God, and I am the one suffering, while those who scoff at Him seem to do better – then why serve Him? And there is the crisis of the unspoken expectation. The Psalmist assumed that serving God meant an easier life – one without the trials, temptations, sorrows and difficulties which those who do not serve God OUGHT to have instead. But of course, there is nothing in Scripture which intimates any such viewpoint. In fact, that is the viewpoint of the idolator, not the Believer. If I make my sacrifices, keep to my rituals, obey my list of duties – I will be “blessed” with the good life. That’s the contract. Only it isn’t.
And this could well have been the way it was with the Disciples that night Jesus sent them across the lake after feeding the 5,000. As they were soon to learn in this place obedience to Christ is no barrier to trial, danger and struggle. This scenario will be repeated in the lives of His disciples both in similar circumstances as well as in very different ones. There they were, doing what He had specifically asked, while facing inhuman and insurmountable opposition in the storm.
And they were also to learn, that it is in these hours we are to look for His visitation.
Perhaps this is you today. Perhaps you have imbibed the rubric of the idolator, rather than understanding the simple opposition of this fallen world – and expected your faith in Jesus to magically make the sorrows of this life disappear. When all along He has something greater in mind. His appearing in the very midst of the greatest danger. He IS drawing near to you in your trial. It doesn’t mean the wind and waves will automatically subside. But it does mean, if He is with you, you will not ultimately succumb. And before you know it, you will reach Heaven’s shore. Safe and sound. Trust Him, not some unspoken expectation.