Friday, 15 March 2019

Great Expectations

Being writers, I would hope that most of us are familiar with the story of Pip, his infatuation with Estella and misplaced hope in Miss Havisham (sorry to those reader’s who’ve not read this Dicken’s classic).

 After Pip has reached the pinnacle of society, is dressed as a gentleman and mixing with all the cream of high society, he discovers that the person who has funded his education, has paid all his bills and who has promised him the great expectation of a fortune to live on is not Miss Havisham. It is the dirty, violent convict from his childhood—the man who forced him to steal a pie and an iron file. Miss Havisham has only ever designed his torment. The convict—who made good in the colony of New South Wales, running sheep—is the one who has felt kindly towards Pip. The convict is the one who has sacrificed all for Pip’s benefit. When Pip discovers this shocking truth, he is not only disappointed, he is disgusted. This is not what he expected. This is not how he’d planned for his life to turn out. At this point, Pip loses his hope, his joy and his peace.

I’ve been pondering on this idea of lost hope, lost joy and lost peace. How often have we misplaced our hope, thinking our joy and our peace will come if only we can get that certain job; if only we can marry; if only we can have children; if only our children will give us grandchildren; if only we have that house, or that car, or that overseas holiday; if only our book will be published?

Honestly, I’ve probably been in that place of believing my joy will be complete when one or all of those things come to pass. And I’ve also been in that place where those things have come to pass, and yet, things don’t always turn out how we plan. Things go wrong. Relationships go south. Kids get annoyed with their parents. Books don’t always sell.

Do you recall the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai? Moses was up on the mountain seeking the face of the Lord and the people began to fidget. Where’s Moses? What’s taking him so long? They come to Aaron and suggest they build a golden calf whom they can worship. And Aaron—who knows what’s going on in his head?—gets all the gold and makes a carved idol. Then they stand around singing, feasting and dancing and saying that this dumb statue has brought them up out of Egypt. How dumb can you be and still breath? Where were they when the plagues were raining down, and the angel of death passed over the land? How quickly did they forget who their Lord and deliverer was?

Dumb idols. Bread and water that doesn’t satisfy. 

Do we do the same thing ourselves? Where is God? What’s taking him so long to bring healing in my family? What’s taking him so long to help me achieve my purpose? When will I ever be financially comfortable so I can sit on a pool floaty and drink a pineapple cocktail?
At this point, we sometimes make idols of ourselves, or our jobs, or our family, or our feelings.
But the Bible is clear:

Psalm 16:11  (NKJV)
 “You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

 Romans 15:13 (NLT)
 “ I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

There are loads more Scriptures that clearly express how our hope, when placed in the Lord, will yield both joy and peace. I encourage you to do a word search and you will be encouraged by the Scriptures that come up. 

Disappointment is going to come in life. We do have great expectations—our society, media and education promotes these pictures of just what we can expect to fulfil our every desire. But when it boils down, while one person is digging in and insisting on their rights to be happy, that right will come at someone else’s cost. The culture of personal rights is OK, but it isn’t what brings joy and peace.

Even in the midst of suffering, a person can find joy. Remember, the Apostle Paul, who wrote a heap about the joy of the Lord and the peace that passes understanding, was not writing poolside at the Hilton. He was in prison, suffering beatings, knowing that the church members were being persecuted by the despot, Nero—thrown to the lions and burned as human torches. These were the conditions from which he encouraged us to rejoice in the Lord always. The only way to be able to achieve this is to make sure that we haven’t got our expectations set to the standard of the current social status, and that we don’t build dumb idols of our career, family or stuff that we own. 

Put your hope in the Lord, and pursue him, and in Him, you will find the fullness of joy and the peace that passes understanding.

Even in grief and disappointment, take those feelings to the Lord, and rest a while in His comfort. There you will find peace.

Expectations are exciting, but it is when we build up expectation based on a commercial or Hollywood image, and wait for those things to bring us satisfaction that we realise our hope is misplaced. I have been practising this way of giving my family a break. I don’t rely on them as the source of my joy. I have been practising finding that joy in the source of life itself—in Christ alone—and so disappointments, when they come, don’t have the ability to defeat me, as they may have done in the past. And what I expect of others is no longer so high that it’s a burden to them. They shouldn’t have to bear the weight of making me successful, fearing my disappointment when they can’t meet that expectation.

It is a freeing place to be. Once Pip began to understand who his benefactor was, and he stopped idolising Miss Havisham and Estella, he began to appreciate what he had been given, and the man who had given it. 

God bless you as you take stock of your expectations, and as you seek the source of joy and peace. You won’t be disappointed.

South Australian Author, Meredith Resce, has been writing since 1991, and has had books in the Australian market since 1997. 

Following the Australian success of her “Heart ofGreen Valley” series, they were released in the UK and USA. 

‘Hell on the Doorstep’ is Meredith’s 19th published project, the second non-fiction.
Apart from writing, Meredith also takes the opportunity to speak to groups on issues relevant to relationships and emotional and spiritual growth.
Meredith has also been co-writer and co-producer in the 2007 feature film production, “Twin Rivers”.
With her husband, Nick, Meredith has worked in Christian ministry since 1983.
Meredith and Nick have three adult children, one daughter and two sons.


  1. I appreciated this article. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, the desires of our heart will be what he also desires for us, and will give us. The key is always to delight ourselves first and foremost in the Lord. Which I find is easier to write than to do consistently!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hadn't realised that feelings could be added to the list of potential idols that I need to keep an eye out for. I am now underlining the anxiety and fear that has made it difficult for me to see God's joy in my life in recent days, and to understand the power that I have given them.
    When I went to add some notes about your post to my prayer journal, I turned the illustrated page, and there was a companion quote (I love the way the Holy Spirit likes to reinforce the message):
    "God wants nothing from us except our needs and these furnish Him with room to display His bounty when He supplies them freely... Not what I have, but what I do not have, is the first point of contact between my soul and God." Charles H Spurgeon.

  3. 'Hope deferred makes the heart sick...' Many times I have experienced my heart being sick. Now days I make my hope adjust to the word of God. Then it is never deferred and my heart remains or returns to a good place!
    Thanks for a great blog Meredith.

  4. Hi Meredith, you've touched a spot with me too. Great Expectations has always been one of my very favourite Dickens novels, and that might be because there is so much to relate to in Pip's experiences. As Jo commented above, I've had my fair share of that sort of heart sickness too. What a great reminder to consider how we face it.