Redeeming failed expectations

BY SHERRY THOMAS, GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Toward the end of our first year of marriage, my husband and I made an agreement that forever changed our relationship. We decided that no matter how angry we felt, we would never again suggest we had married the wrong person.

Until that point, it was the ultimate weapon in heated arguments. Making this declaration in an argument did tend to bring things to a halt, but never in a good way. It sowed seeds of doubtIt led to the question, “Were we destined to be stuck in a loveless marriage?”

Thankfully, the Lord graciously intervened and shifted our perspectives. The reality was, we both lacked. We both had expectations of one another, some good and some unreasonable. I was not that nurturer that my husband thought his future wife would be, and he didn’t offer to help when I was doing something I detested then, such as cooking. He had a habit of holding grudges, while I tended to overreact and say things I shouldn’t.

Along with other personal differences, we seemed then to be incompatible. Yet, to call our marriage a mistake would have been to declare that God had made a mistake. After all, our commitment to each other was made in His presence, with His binding.

Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate. – Mark 10:9

God had done the joining. Maybe we had been idealistic in our expectations, but God had a plan and purpose for our union. He allowed us to say, “I do,” recognizing all the things we didn’t.

The Thomas Family

The Lord’s design for our union was not based on ignorance, but on His complete awareness of our strengths and weaknesses, our individual pasts and our united future.

As we continue to study the life of Jacob in Genesis, we come back to the same conclusion: God’s plan of redemption outweighs every failed expectation. 

One marriage, three broken hearts

When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?  – Genesis 29:25 

The lives of Jacob, Leah and Rachel were fraught with tension and insecurityPolygamy was never part of God’s design for marriage and the sisters lived in constant competition. They struggled for the attention of their husband and gloated over each other’s miseries. Did Jacob wonder if Rachel’s closed womb was a result of his decision to marry her when he was already married to Leah? Did he ever blame God for allowing Laban to deceive him? What if his circumstances were a consequence of his own sinful past?

Though I’ve studied this Scripture multiple times, I only recently realized that their story is my story. I don’t have the same sordid events in my own history, but I have felt what they felt. In life, I have experienced Jacob’s sense of betrayal, confusion, regret and guilt. 

Like Leah, I too have been plagued by my own insecurities. The sting of rejection is a familiar feeling. Rachel’s disappointment, hopelessness and frustration are emotions that frequently threaten to steal my joyFrom that perspective, their story is probably your story, too.  

God had done the joining. Maybe we had been idealistic in our expectations, but God had a plan and purpose …

Jacob’s family life was not ideal, but it also wasn’t hopeless. The Lord blessed Leah with Judah, from whose line the Messiah eventually came. He also blessed Rachel with Joseph, who would later preserve that same line. What Jacob saw as a great injustice was used by God to bless him and, ultimately, the world. 

While God used prophecies and visions in Genesis to direct His people on a future course, He never allowed anyone to go back and change the past. No wrongdoing can ever be undone. However, every sinner and situation can be redeemed. Without contradicting His own nature, God brings blessing into seemingly hopeless situations. There is a righteous path forward for the child of God to take at every crossroad. 

Rut or redemption?

What areas of your life or relationships seem beyond hope? Are you tempted to assume that your own choices or the choices made by others have forever ruined any chance of fulfillment? When your marriage or spouse fails to meet the standard you had envisioned, do you mourn the loss of a dream, or do you look to the Redeemer for help and the right way forward? 

Once my husband and I understood that the Lord had His own purpose and plan for our marriage, things began to change. Over time, He grew our love for Him and each other through the study and practice of His Word. He used trials and struggles to bring us together and He increased our dependence on Him. We learned that He likes to use spouses in His sanctification process, to point out sin and to practice grace. Those early unmet expectations were part of His bigger plan to direct our attention to Him. 18 years later, He has deepened our love for one another to a degree that we couldn’t perceive as newlyweds. As we look to the future, we know to expect difficulties and disagreements, but not without hope. God is faithful to continue His redemptive work in our lives until His good and perfect will has been accomplished.

… Every sinner and situation can be redeemed. Without contradicting His own nature, God brings blessing into seemingly hopeless situations.

God’s complete redemption is offered to every person who comes to the realization that only God can fix damaged things. Will you continue to carry around the brokenness or are you ready to offer it to the Great Redeemer? 

Scripture is replete with stories of pain caused by sin, but they are also marked by His abounding mercy and love. Just as God protected Jacob, looked upon Leah and remembered Rachel, He continues to see us when we seek Him. Through His Son Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, God is faithful to redeem every failed expectation.

Sherry Thomas learned about Jesus Christ as a child, but as an adult she grasped the concept of a growing relationship with Him through Bible study and prayer. She joined Bible Study Fellowship more than 10 years ago after the Lord called her out of her corporate job to become a stay-at-home mom. Sherry is happily married to her husband Jacob, who is an International Controller for Bible Study Fellowship. Today, she is a homeschooling mom with five children and an Assistant Children’s Supervisor in her BSF class.  She is also involved in women’s ministry at her church and is a guest contributor on ButGod.net.

301 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. It encouraged me and I am sure will encourage many others.

    • Thank you for all sharing your story.

  2. What a timely message. That it came to me when I needed it most is just amazing. Thank you for this gem.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience with God’s faithfulness in your family.It’s very inspiring.God uses challenging situations to draw us closer to Himself.When we submit our problems to Him,He takes over and uses them to glory His name.

  3. Marriage is a matter of compromise and with God in control all will work out well! ?

    • Very encouraging. I can definitely see me in this story. I have experienced some of the same feelings and asked the same questions as well. But through it all I have learned to trust God. My husband and I have been married for 42 years now.

  4. Sherry, Thank you for sharing about your marriage and how through God, you learned how to work through issues as you go through life together. Well said on how God works in us, through us and with us. We just need to trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding.

  5. Sherry, Thank you for sharing about your marriage and how God works in our lives. Well said!

  6. Sherry, Thank you for sharing your story, well said and good reminder of who God is snd how he works, we just need trust Him and His ways and timing.
    Trust in the slots snd lean not on my own understanding;)

  7. I really enjoyed your blog. i look forward to more of your inspiring messages. We serve an awesome God.

  8. Thank you Sherry Thomas for your intimacy. Your blog was heart touching, sincere story & gave me life lessons.

  9. I found your writing extremely heart warming and encouraging.

  10. Well said. Thank you

  11. It was inspiring to read.

  12. Your story is very inspiring and I think is a redemptive story of someone who’s faithful to the one who you love most. As a believer we are all aware of our own shortcomings, doubts, prejudices, and feelings of rejection isolation and other things but we’ve been blessed with God’s promises of redemption and eternal salvation in Him in His Son Jesus Christ our savior

    • I liked your comment.

  13. A true love story!

  14. I’m getting married in a few months, and we already face some unmeeted expectations.
    But this post has changed and shaped my view to look on Jesus who really can redeem every situation and bring us closer to Him and to each other.
    Thank you for sharing

  15. Thank you Sherry for sharing. It strengthens me too much. I thank also God to give us brethren in Christ. Your sharing is a sign from God to me: ” I am here Vololona, I know what you are living with your family. See your sister Sherry; be strengthened with my Word, be strengthened with her sharing!” Thank you sister! You have a beautiful family and your children are so cute! Stay safe and blessed in Jesus!

  16. As we read accounts of people of the Bible, it will help us understand to remember that we are looking into different facets our human nature, tainted by sin

    Our efforts to ‘cover’ our wrongs are as weak, ineffectual as the fig leaves covering at the 1st instance of our fall ( Genesis 3:7 )

    Lord Jesus, shepherd us through life, we pray

  17. This was similar to my story too and I had been mourning the loss of those years when everything seemed perfect, yet I too had come to some of the same conclusions and her words resonate and validate my feelings. Thanks for sharing

    • Marraige is indeed one big institution that God uses to mold us into what he has graciously planned for us. God is good! His mercies endure forever.

      • God bless you dear sister.

  18. Wonderful article through which, I was personally able to relate to. I especially love the statement “every sinner and situation can be redeemed. Without contradicting his own nature, God brings blessing into seemingly hopeless situations”. Indeed, God never stops working in our lives. Thank you Sherry Thomas for being a beacon of light.

  19. It is an INTERESTING, INSPIRING and CHALLENGING story. It is my second time of studying the BOOK OF GENESIS since I joined the BSF but I have never have it so challenging as this year’s study. Thank God for His FAITHFULNESS and GRACE to me, which makes me to be more DEPENDABLE on Him(Proverbs 3:5-6) Thank you for sharing your story.

  20. I’m grateful to God’s redemption. I thought I was a mess as a result of decisions I made. Thankful that now I can depend on God to guide me and to redirect my paths. Thanks for sharing your story.

  21. Thank you for sharing. I can see how God put us where we need to be. I was married three times and God brought my attention to the His Word.

  22. I am greatly encouraged by your sharing Sherry. No sin is beyond redemption and God walks us through trials and test to bring us to dependance on Him.
    I should never be without hope.
    Thank you.

  23. Thank you Sherry for sharing such encouragement to us thru your story and
    applied Gen 29 to your life.
    I’ve forward this email/blog to the women in my BSF small group as well.
    To God be the glory!

  24. What a beautiful story of redeeming love through Christ. I can so relate to the expectation thing……. I am still growing and learning and I can relate to your story. Thanks so much for sharing.

  25. wonderful outcome thru the working of our Jesus Christ.
    I wish that could have been mine! Married 11 years, 3 children,
    and then divorce. But He has taught me this: “For I know the plans
    I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not
    to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” I have emerged
    as a stronger woman thru the grace and love of his leading the
    way for me.

  26. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    God is the head of our relationship if we trust and follow his plan.
    You continue to encourage women.
    What a blessing you are to other women!

  27. It’s refreshing to read an article that expresses what I believe is a common situation in marriages, in divorces, and in remarriages. Only when we finally turn the hurt and pain and disappointment over to God can we endure and even find joy in persevering and remaining steadfast in His strength. So often in Christian women’s circles, seeking to ventilate feelings about your husband and marriage are quickly squashed with scriptures about being a “godly wife,” that many women turn to counseling. We all need to be better listeners, practice empathy, and try to understand enough in order to “bear one another’s burdens.” thank you!

  28. This is an encouragement to all of us. Israel’s story is our story too. God is not finished with us, He is waiting to guide us through all our difficulties. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us, He did not leave us as orphans.

    Monica

    • Love your comment Monica.

  29. Great story and outcome. However, often there is divorce!
    As in my case! But I believe God has a plan for each of
    us at every road we walk down. God is in control and will
    see us all to his best purpose for our lives!

  30. Thank you for sharing your story. God is so good to use his people

  31. A young man delayed his entry into a Christain college for two years after high school. A young lady skipped a grade in elementary school, which had the effect of accelerating her entry in the same college where they were assigned to the same class section of a required course “Building your marriage.” That was in 1956. We were married in 1958. This summer we will celebrate our 63rd wedding anniversary of a spectacular divinely blessed marriage!

    • God bless you.

    • Great encouraging applicatios for every believers on how to see God in our difficult and challenging relationships because He turns every situation around for the accomplishment of His will and for the praise of His name.

  32. What a wonderful testament to God’s love and grace.

  33. Sherry’s thoughts on marriage and living her life God’s way has been so helpful to me as I live life in similar situation. Slowly I grasp God’s leading and find it’s the only way to grow more in love with Jesus and give Him the glory.

  34. Thank you, Sherry. Your story is inspirational especially for young married couples.

  35. Hi, Sherry! Your bio says you “learned” about Jesus as a child and “grasped the concept” of a relationship when Him through Bible study and prayer. When di you see yourself a sinner and ask Jesus to save you?? Thanks !!

    • Hi Connie! It’s so hard to share your whole testimony in a couple of lines so forgive the lack of clarity. I learned that I was a sinner and needed Jesus as my Savior as a child but it wasn’t until I was older that I understood that He also wanted me to submit my entire life and will to Him – allow Him to be Lord too. That’s also when I realized being a Christian means a growing and deepening love for Christ.

      • God bless you Sherry.

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