Several months ago, I noticed a statement coming from my wife’s lips that really caught my attention. There’s no telling how long Michele had been using the phrase around the house, but one day amid a deep discussion she said, “Let’s just expect God’s best.” That hit close to my heart, and soon we began saying it to each other on a frequent basis: “let’s expect God’s best.”
Soon thereafter, I felt compelled to teach on the topic. As I zeroed in on the idea, I noticed that I began to wrestle with my own theology about this. Can we really expect God’s best? At the heart of my struggle was the notion of is this realistic, or am I setting myself up for disappointment? Should I expect God’s best? It felt like the beginning of a quest for truth.
I began my quest with an honest question, “How can I say that I expect God’s best when it seems as if difficulty is around every corner?” We can’t deny that we live in a broken world where hardship is inevitable. We deal with physical sickness, death, human emotion, and often, conflict abounds. At times, these things are unescapable, and yet Michele said, “Let’s expect God’s best.”
After much study, prayer, and contemplation I’ve concluded, that yes, I can still expect God’s best in my life because, “I’m in this world, but I am not of it.” (John 17 paraphrased). I serve a different Kingdom, because “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world,” (I John 4:4 KJV) and “death has been swallowed up in victory.” (I Corinthians 15:54 NIV)
So, here’s the Bible passage I want us to focus on today. It reads:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4, NLT)
If we really want to expect God’s best, here are three principles we must grasp:
- I don’t always know what’s best.
- I don’t always do what’s best.
- I should always strive to give my best.
I Don’t Always Know What’s Best
It stands to reason that if I am to know and experience God’s best, I must first define the word, “best.” The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, “anything that is most excellent, effective, or desirable, both in type or quality.” But, often when we’re looking for “the best,” it comes across as subjective.It depends on who you ask and their personal preferences, opinions, and perspectives. So, this ambiguity begins to surface: The older I get, the more I understand about life — and at the same time, the more I understand about life, the less I know.
What about the common roadblock of disappointment? I’ve learned that when we feel disappointed in God, it is easy to feel as if we know better than God. It’s an attitude we all periodically wrestle with, isn’t it? Imagine the gall to even entertain the thought! However, we’ve all done it.
James puts it this way in his epistle, “Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” Then he gives this unbelievable warning, “Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7 NLT)Put your faith in God alone and keep expecting His best.
I Don’t Always Do What’s Best
Sometimes we don’t experience God’s best because of our own inconsistency. Simply put, we don’t always do what’s best. Often, it’s not the fault of God or the devil; rather the fault lies squarely on our shoulders. It is important for us to keep in mind that just because there is forgiveness, it doesn’t mean there are no consequences.
At times, our blindness can cause us to overlook own our blundering actions and attitudes. We feel justified to even leave them out of the equation. Paul addressed this when he said,
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8 NIV)
Simply put, we can be our own worst enemy.
Here’s all I’m trying to say: we don’t get the luxury of living however we want to live and then get mad when God doesn’t give us what we think is best. Ouch! That hurts, doesn’t it? Aren’t you glad that God is the God of second, third, and fourth chances? Even when we fail to give our best, we can always come back home.
It’s not too late for God to turn it around for you. Take Paul’s admonition, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV) And yes, all things means all things!
I Should Always Strive to Give My Best
Here’s an interesting principle that is repeated throughout scripture, and therefore deserves our attention. Every place of sacrifice in the Old Testament was given on a high place. Take Noah for example: The first altar built after the flood was built on a mountain — a high place. Abraham constructed an altar for the sacrifice of Isaac on a mountain, later known as Calvary. God met Moses on Mount Sinai, not in the plains. God was lawfully worshipped on “the high places” by Samuel and others (I Samuel 9:12; I Kings 3:2, 4; II Chronicles 33:17). What more could be said — when you give your best, you are venturing into a “high place.”
Scripture describes the kings of Israel with one of the following labels: either he tore down the high places, or he built up the high places. In essence, every king’s reign was labeled blessed or cursed, based on what they established in the high places of sacrifice and worship. It speaks of giving one’s best. Never forget, what you give in the high places of life will indelibly label your life and legacy!
Keep in mind that your best is not always gauged by some feeling or emotion. At times, our emotions can be a poor measuring stick to live by. This is where we need trusted mentors and friends that will speak the truth in love to us. Do you have those kinds of friends? We all need them! Just know they’re out there, and God wants you to find them.
Each of us is on a journey — a journey to experience God’s best for our lives! We find it through laser-focused intentionality, coupled with progressive forward movement. So, what might be some questions to ask yourself in starting the process of experiencing God’s best? Here are a few to consider: Am I really determined to go there? Is it a high enough priority in my life? What currently stands in my way? What might I need to change? The list goes on and on. Wherever you start though, I’d encourage you to do what Michele and I did. Begin to vocalize your faith by saying, “I’m expecting God’s best!”