Expectations are dangerous. They basically come in the form of hopeful or negative thoughts, and are often proven wrong in some way. “Why?” you as. Well, expectations are predicated upon the actions of the imperfect and broken people who walk this planet or those of a God whose thoughts are far above our own. Christmas is a time when many people experience unfulfilled expectations, and I believe the reason can be traced back to the manger where Christ was born.
What was God thinking in sending His one and only Son to be born in a smelly old manger? It had been 400 “silent” years between the Book of Malachi and when Christ arrived in the manger. Shouldn’t all of Israel have been notified, and shouldn’t the Messiah have arrived on the scene in a grander fashion? Surely Christ deserved a more high-profile birth and surely all of Israel deserved a chance to come and pay their respects! Shouldn’t Christ’s arrival have served as an immediate shift in power?
Instead of grandeur, instead of fanfare, Christ arrived on the scene in the lowliest of circumstances and oddly we don’t have any record of Him complaining about it either. His birth demonstrated meekness and humility, and was a symbol that for the rest of man’s existence, God would be accessible to him. To this very day, many Israelites have had a challenging time accepting Christ as the Messiah because He did not come the way they expected Him to come, nor did He fulfill prophecy they way they expected to fulfill it. This would seem a bit narcissistic to some, but many of us do the same thing every day within our relationships.
These last few weeks, I have been faced with a number of unfulfilled expectations. One in particular was more hurtful than other. A friend of mine, who I considered a brother, has taken offense towards me for an unknown reason. I sensed it, but wasn’t positive and didn’t want to bring something up if there wasn’t really something there. Recently, he stopped answering when I called and then yesterday, someone alerted me to him erasing every picture of us together off of social media. My immediate response was hurt; he had done something like this one other time in our friendship and now here he is doing it a second time!
The Lord spoke this to me; “You don’t need someone to love you back for you to love them.” Christ has demonstrated this in that when we were utterly hopeless, He did for us (Rom. 5:6). In other words, when we least deserved it, Christ offered the greatest demonstration of love!
“What does all of this have to do with Christmas and the manger?” Many expected a conquering warrior Messiah who would wipe out Israel’s opposition, but instead our Messiah came in meekness and the same way all of us came into the world: as a baby. Often we will find even the most basic and rational (at least to us anyway) expectations challenged. This Christmas, instead of having a bunch of expectations which are almost sure to be let down, let’s try our best to have a Christlike attitude. Remember that broken people will let people down (and remember, we are all broken in some way). Let’s positions our hearts to be grateful for what we do have and also decide to love people even in the moments they deserve it the least!