I remember that dreadful evening, many years ago, when the girl I was madly in love with called me saying, “We need to talk.” That phrase was enough to send a chill down my spine and to scare me for something terrible to come. I met her the next day and my worst fears came true. She called me to break up with me because I was not the kind of boyfriend she wanted. I was clearly not living up to the expectation she had set for me. I remember that phase of my life when my mobile had a break up playlist and crying came to me as easy as breathing. I could see her face everywhere, from advertising hoardings, to being able to see her face on my chapatti. I was completely shattered because I had not expected her to break up with me.
Reflecting on this whole episode now, I realize that expectations can be quite an obstacle in our relationships. We know of families having problems or fights because someone or the other did not do what was expected. We also have expectations about the way our parents should behave or our child should act etc. ‘Expectation‘ can be quite a stumbling block in our faith journey as well.
Why me Lord? How can this happen to me? Why are the innocent suffering? Is God dead? Where is God when I need him the most? Why is God not answering my prayers?
These are different ways of stating that God is not doing what we expect him to do. If right now you are feeling terrible because you think you can identify with this situation, then do not worry. There are many characters in the Bible who faced the same problem.
Let’s look at the Gospel of John 20:11, where Jesus appears to Mary of Magdala but she fails to recognize him and thinks he is a gardener. Mary of Magdala was expecting a dead Jesus to be laid at rest covered in his burial cloth and therefore the resurrected Christ who was bubbling with life escaped her eyes. Her expectation did not allow her to experience the joy of the resurrection. It was only when the Lord called her that she immediately recognized who he was. Another example is of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus in Luke 24:13 – 35.
If we are to learn from these two stories we can understand that in most instances, we think we know who God is. I know how he looks, how he acts, what he will say and do. We totally ignore the majesty and mysterious side to God. A side that our infinite minds cannot comprehend. We try to understand him like we would do with any other human person. We all have our own understanding of who God is, which at times may be restricted and incorrect. However, if someone speaks of the works of God which does not conform to my idea, it would means that, that god is not my God or not my kinda God. Eg: The upper caste believe that God cannot work with the lower caste, those who we judge to be evil cannot be blessed by God or my kinda God does not like anybody asking questions but should blindly believe in what is taught etc.
All that we do is, divide the community further based on the kind of God we want to worship. We hear liberals and conservatives fighting. We hear young and old people disagreeing. We hear the west and the east having a difference of opinion. Why go so far, in your own house maybe your idea of who God is does not agree with another member. So what is the real problem here? The problem is that we have reduced God to be a concept that I will construct. Instead of God creating me in his image and likeness, I am busy creating my own version of God based on my liking and preferences.
The Catholic Church in her wisdom and theological reflections has provided for us the framework on who God is to us all and what is his general will for us all. Even the Church respects the mysterious side to God and in all humility, will accept that we do not know God completely (CCC 152). Therefore, cannot our God be much beyond our comprehension? Or is it necessary that we have to know exactly how God is and how he will act?
So, if God is not working like how you expect him to work, then get on your knees and ask God to reveal himself to you, to reveal what his will and plan is for you. Do not get busy to make God a puppet of your hands, rather let the God who surpasses all our expectation surprise you. After all, nobody expected a bruised and beaten man, crucified on the cross to rise again and live in our midst. Now that’s our kinda God!!! Think big!