The Problem with Expectations



But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! —2 Kings 5:11 NLT


I was tired of being home. (I expect you may be feeling that way, too. We have all basically been home since March, haven’t we?) I decided we could risk a short vacation in Vermont, a state next to ours; both states blessedly low in Covid cases. We usually book very inexpensive accommodations because our jobs, though rich in heavenly rewards, are not rich in monetary rewards. [Ha!] However, to be sure we would be safe, I booked a resort with a couple more stars than our usual. I was all excited about what a marvelous place it would be! My expectations were high. The pictures of the resort looked stunning. We were going to Live It Up for a few days. Wahooo!

The drive to Vermont was gorgeous and so was the first view of the resort. In fact, the grounds lived up to their pictures and the mountains that surrounded us. Stunning. The problem was the room itself. It was … dreary. To put it mildly. The carpet was worn. The back deck still had unswept leaves from last fall. The doors were creaky and the bathtub was old. As we entered that room, my heart plummeted. This was not at all what I expected. And it made me sad—and mad. I had brought my Clorox wipes along and grimly proceeded to wipe down everything in sight, just in case the cleaning job on the room was on a par with the quality of said room. I was not happy.

In our verse above, Naaman also had his expectations dashed. He was a man of importance from the country of Aram, and he had leprosy. After traveling a great distance to visit the prophet Elisha in Israel, Naaman expected a great reception in his honor and a swift and uncomplicated healing of his leprosy. Like me—but with way more at stake—Naaman had high hopes and expectations for his visit to Elisha. Then, his hopes and expectations were dashed. There was no fine reception; in fact, Elisha did not even meet with him, sending his servant instead. Here was the message to Naaman: go to the local river and dip your body in it seven times. What?! This was not Naaman’s idea of a dignified healing at all. And yet, here he was in Israel. Would he go home angry … with leprosy still eating away at his wasted body? Or would Naaman receive the command and wash himself seven times in a foreign river?

How about you? Have you ever had an expectation go flat? Unmet expectations have been a reality for humans everywhere since Naaman’s day and even before that. We get our hopes all up. We anticipate. We yearn and long for something big and then Crash. It all falls down. And when it does, we have a choice. We can fuss and fume and stay in an unhealthily crabby state, or we can look at where we actually are and ask God to help us right there. Sometimes, we just need to let go of those expectations and embrace the good in the reality set before us.

I confess it took me a little bit of time, but I decided to embrace the good in Vermont instead of whining about the bad. And let me tell you. When I let go of my picture of what the resort room should have looked like and instead enjoyed the tremendous beauty of mountains and rushing rivers and covered bridges, life was very, very good. The resort was not crowded at all. Every evening, I swam alone in a beautiful pool while the sun set over the mountains and the colorful, landscaped flower gardens nodded at me poolside. Ray would sit and read his book and keep me company as I reveled in my very own pool. Every day, Ray and I walked a new trail and admired birds and trees and brooks. Even a young deer in the woods, stopped and stilled, was unafraid as we watched without hardly breathing for a long, beautiful while.

I could have missed my vacation. Truly. If I had stayed in a funk about the room, I would have missed the great and beautiful outdoors all around me. And Naaman? Well, if he had gone back to Aram without even trying the strange “cure” offered him by Elisha, he would have died a disfigured and miserable man. But Naaman chose the river. He dipped and he washed seven times, humbling himself and doing as God told him. Naaman went home healed … with great rejoicing!

In this time of seemingly endless pandemic, let’s not let our unmet expectations sideline us. Instead, let’s look at where we are and find the good Right There. Let’s be thankful for houses with roofs on them. Let’s notice the hot water that comes from our showerheads as we wash, not in a river, but in a clean and sterile bathroom of our very own. Let’s get outdoors and really hear the birds sing and the leaves rustle in the trees. Let’s remind ourselves with certainty that someday, our expectations will be met if we know Jesus. A new heaven and a new earth are coming with a true and righteous King, and one day, we will see more than we could ever expect or imagine when we cross from death to eternal life with Him. You know what? Heaven will exceed all expectations. I can hardly wait!

Heavenly Father, forgive me when I get bogged down in all I don’t have instead of seeing how much I do have. In Your graciousness You have blessed me with so much. Lord, give me eyes to see the good even in hard times. Help me to start each day expecting that You will be with me in all the ups and downs. Help me to live in trust, knowing that all You allow into my life has purpose. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Note: Photo credits go to Peter Poole Photography. Thank you, Peter, for this wonderful photo
that better represents the beauty of Vermont than my own poor pictures could ever do!

You are loved,



Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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8 Comments. Leave new

  • Thanks for the clear picture you present with your words that give me a true picture
    of what I need to see and feel.

  • Margaret Fowler
    August 17, 2020 10:28 pm

    Great article, beautiful picture. We love Vermont. It is not wrong to have expectations, as that is part of hope. We just need to learn acceptance and contentment. I am still learning and a long way to go!

    • Sharon Gamble
      August 17, 2020 10:53 pm

      OH I agree. We need to hold out our expectations with palms up and fists unclenched. Willing to accept what God gives but enjoying the hope as well!!

  • Thank you, Sharon!
    I recently experienced a shock of unmet expectations and realized what I “wanted” is not at all what God had promised.
    It is humbling to see my own spoiled heart. Enjoying God’s gifts in the midst of disappointment helps me adjust my focus and the diaries of my heart.
    This was such a timely message!

    • Sharon Gamble
      August 18, 2020 6:18 pm

      Oh Marlene, first of all I am so sorry for the unmet expectation in your life. Even if it is ultimately for good and even if God is “in” it … it still hurts when something we expected and yearned for doesn’t happen. But oh how God helps us adjust our focus nonetheless. SO thankful He has met you in that hurt. And super-thankful that this blog came at just the right time so I could commiserate with you and pray for you as you move forward, trusting that He knows best. Love you friend!

  • Bonnie kenyon
    August 19, 2020 12:01 pm

    This is so true of most of us….always wanting more. Glad your vacation turned out blessed. Living here in the hills of VT is a blessing for sure. Txs for your share.

    • Sharon Gamble
      August 19, 2020 1:10 pm

      Thanks, Bonnie. And I agree. You are blessed to live in such a beautiful state!! Savor it. Thanks for your comment!


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