I wrote an article in October 2012 titled “Expectations” discussing the expectations we place upon each other in relationships that often lead to unnecessary pressure and disappointment. Here, I would like for us to consider that same concept in regard to the expectations we have for 2021. Traditionally, we begin the year with resolutions and declarations of our expectations. We not only place demands on ourselves, but we also place demands on the year. Of course, all those things sound good and are pleasing to us.
However, many of us usually throw out the resolutions and declarations within the first quarter of the year, because we have placed either unrealistic demands on ourselves or demands we have not fully committed to. For example, losing weight, exercising, a healthier lifestyle, making better choices, reading our Bibles, praying, fasting. . . The list could go on and on, and if we are honest with ourselves, most of the resolutions and declarations come from a place of ego. Selah. We start the new year with a bang, then we start to fizzle out in three months and halfway into the year, we need to be resuscitated. This pattern has been repeated for years. Side note: insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Perhaps, it is time to re-evaluate our expectations for the new year.
If 2020 taught us anything, it should be that we have no control over what the year delivers. We do, however, have control over how we respond. Countless ones stepped up to the challenge of 2020 and discovered strength and ingenuity that they did not know they possessed. Unfortunately, many also felt overwhelmed and hopeless. Regardless of how we responded, we were all ready to leave 2020 behind – some with ready expectations for 2021 and some just grateful to have survived.
Personally, after experiencing a few years of unexpected life events that squashed my new year expectations, I long ago opted out of placing demands on upcoming years. I simplified my expectations to what I knew for certain were going to be true in any given year. They are simple yet powerful. They hold true regardless of what’s happening in the world, in my home, in the office, or in relationships.
First, I expect to see the goodness and mercy of God because He is good and merciful. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting. . . Psalm 100:5. I have experienced and am a witness of His continuous goodness and mercy in my life. He is always good and always merciful, and I do not have to wait for His goodness and mercy to be revealed – they are always there. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. . .” Psalm 23:6.
Lastly, I expect to follow after and obey Him because that is my heart’s longing. I am fully committed to staying on the path He has set before me. I’m committed to doing whatever He wants me to do, how He wants me to do it, wherever He wants me to do it, and when He wants me to do it. “Because the Lord God helps me, I will not be dismayed; therefore, I have set my face like flint to do His will, and I know that I will triumph.” Isaiah 50:7.
Just as I stated in my 2012 article, when our expectations are not met, we often find ourselves unfulfilled, discouraged, despondent, and sometimes depressed. I also stated that the enemy preys upon our emotions and disappointment can create a wound. The Bible says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick. . .” Proverbs 13:12(a). When we make declarations amiss, we self-inflict ourselves with disappointment and other adverse emotions. This is not to say that we do not speak and believe the Word of God, but it does mean we need to check our motives and ensure our declarations are coming from God and not our ego. This year, whatever the declaration, whatever the expectation, plug in a “nevertheless.” Luke 22:4, “. . . nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
My prayer for 2021: “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us; Selah.” Psalm 67:1