It Wasn’t Supposed To Be This Way

It wasn?t supposed to be this way.

That?s what he told me. ?I?d called him because I?d noticed that he and his family hadn?t been around for a few weeks. ??Chuck, is everything alright? ?I haven?t seen you guys for a while. ?You guys okay??

?It wasn?t supposed to be this way,? he said. ??We did everything we were supposed to do. ?We faithfully came to church and care group. ?We read our Bibles and prayed. ?We taught our children about the Lord. ?We gave our money to God. ?And now look what?s happened. ?My son gets a girl pregnant and has to get married. ?He?s not following the Lord. ?I thought God promised to bless me if I followed him.?

Sadly, this man never came back to our church.

It wasn?t supposed to be this way. ?Though many of us wouldn?t say this, we often subtly believe it. If I follow God, he will bless me with a good life. ?If I follow the Lord, all my children will be saved at young ages, marry attractive, godly spouses, and have perfect children themselves. ?If I follow the Lord, I?ll have a great life.

But God doesn?t owe us our best life now.
He doesn?t owe us anything. ?We owe God everything. Jesus doesn?t save us to fulfill our plans and purposes, but to fulfill his plans and purposes. ?God?s plan is to glorify his name, not make us successful or give us long, healthy, trouble free lives.

If we believe it?s supposed to be a certain way if we do certain things, that makes God our debtor.

Then it?s not grace. ?He owes us. ?We earned it. ?We deserve it. ?But God doesn?t operate on a deserve it system. ?His kingdom runs on grace, from beginning to end. ?We don?t deserve to be saved; he saves us by grace. ?We don?t deserve any blessings; God graciously pours out thousands of undeserved blessings on us by grace.

God?s plan is to not to give us our best life now, but to glorify his name by transforming us into the likeness of Christ. ?And sometimes he does that through suffering. ?Sometimes he makes us like Christ by withholding what we?d desire.

It is wrong expectations that get us into trouble. ?Wrong expectations of God. ?Or our church. ?Or our spouse. ?Or of life. ?If we expect something and don?t get it, then we can become disillusioned, bitter and depressed.

We can have expectations of God, though.
We can expect to know God more and more through his Word and Spirit. ?We can expect him to be faithful to us, to never leave nor forsake us. ?We can expect God to supply us with all the grace we need to glorify him in any situation. ?We can expect him to use every blessing and every trial in our lives to make us more like Jesus. ?We can expect to someday see his face and worship him forever and enjoy our eternal inheritance in heaven.

I try to have no expectations from this fallen world. ?I try to have no expectations from fallen human beings. ?Even of those Christ has redeemed, my fellow sinner saints, I expect them to fail and at times even sin against me, though I believe they love Jesus and he will complete the good work he began in them, just as I will fail and sin against them, and Jesus will finish his transforming work in me.

It wasn?t supposed to be this way. ?Here?s how it was supposed to be – we all should be in hell, in darkness, despair and unimaginable pain. ?Instead, if you?re a believer, we?re here, loved by our Father, saved by the Son, and filled with the Holy Spirit. ?Adopted into God?s family. ?Sons and daughters. ?No, it wasn?t supposed to be this way. ?It should have been worse. ?So really, this is our best life now, no matter what we?re suffering. ?But our true best life is yet to come.

Comments

  1. Jennifer Van Wieren says

    Amen…and sensitively put. This is the thinking and sadness I found myself in for a couple of years after we lost our son and, because God is good, patient, and graceful, He held fast to Him.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Jennifer, you and Todd are true examples of clinging to the Lord in faith despite very sad and tragic circumstances. And God does hold fast to us – I'm so grateful for that.

  2. saraandfam says

    Really great post. So humbling to remember we aren't owed anything, but have been given everything. After our 3rd miscarriage, I went back and read my journal from our 2nd miscarriage, and I was baffled that I had been able to write the Scripture about the Lord having "dealt bountifully" with me. It's only by God's grace, but I feel I am able to say that again. After having lost so much, God can get us to a place where we really see that He HAS dealt bountifully with us…when we realize all we have has been given graciously. Most of all, His Son Jesus and our salvation.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Wow Sara, what glory you and Justin are giving to the Lord, by God's grace, by saying the Lord has dealt bountifully with us, in the midst of your suffering. I want to be like you guys.

  3. JackW says

    This quote I just read from Challies blog seems to fit in:

    "The godly have some good in them, therefore the devil afflicts them; and some evil in them, therefore God afflicts them." —Thomas Watson

    Not exactly optimistic, but true. So thankful for grace.

  4. Caroline says

    Humble reminder, that I have been saved by only grace. Past few days have been difficult at work. But he never promised smooth sailing in the christian walk.. Thanks for the post:)

  5. says

    Great post once again Mark, So true..I have found myself saying those very words in the midst of the valleys that I have walked through. But I have found it true that while the path seems dark and I may even feel like I'm on my own, God has promised that in spite of who I am, He will be with me every step of the way. I am so very thankful that this is not 'it"! We have much greater things in store for us, namely Christ Himself! what an amazing treasure!
    Thanks so much for the reminder that this is indeed not our best life now! We have a life of eternal treasures to look forward to!
    Blessings
    Ron Reffett

  6. says

    I love how this was written…. The Bible does clearly say that if we are obediant that God will bless us, BUT it does NOT specify how. Many of us quickly assume (expect) that it will be blessings of goodness and desired things… Why would we think of Suffering as a Blessing? Having gone through much suffering in my life and continuing to today, and while the pain is still and will always be with me…I can see , understand and enjoy the blessings amidst the suffering and view the suffering in itself as a blessing, for God has shown and taught me much through it. Sometimes it doesn't make complete since to the human mind and my heart but with the help of the Holy Spirit it is made much more clearer. Something else I have learned about EXPECTATIONS through my years of suffering is that there are many who mean well.. weather they are family, friends, fellow brothers and sisters..They wish to help, console and comfort, and while they may miss the mark of providing what we need and may even at times inadvertantly judge or insult us…We need to understand that we should not hold them to our expectations or hold them responsible, but instead extend the same Grace that God extends to us. So while it hurts and may seem unfair that things and life have not turned out as I expected them to…..I am soooooo Thankful for God has taught me sooo much and continues to do so..

    • MarkAltrogge says

      Christina, what wonderful, insightful comments, especially the ones about others who although mean well , are not helpful. What a merciful heart this shows you have. It really sounds like God has done wonderful things in your life through your suffering. Thank you so much for adding these comments.

  7. Julian says

    First I must say what you said was really good and true but were I believe your words fall short is that There your words, your points are not back by the word of God with scripture don’t get me wrong because what your saying is truth but the reason this guys never came back to church is simply because he was never Born Again and he viewed God as a santa clause not as a Holy righteous, just God!

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