How To Keep Expectations From Becoming Disappointments

Gold Brush Stroke

Expectations can add to the joy of a much-anticipated event; however, they can also set us up for great disappointment.

Expectations can add to the joy of a much-anticipated event; however, they can also set us up for disappointment. Share on X

All through the pregnancy with my last son, I knew he would be a girl. I never had, nor wanted, a revealing ultrasound, but everything just felt right for the female gender.

  • I already had two boys and only one girl (this baby would even things out).
  • The heart rate and the way I carried the baby reflected female.
  • I had that motherly instinct.

However, on April 23, 2001, he arrived, and my expected girl turned out to be a boy.

Although my heart instantly bonded with this handsome little bundle, my expectations of what gender my baby would be set me back just a bit as I had to turn my girl thoughts to boy ones.

I wouldn’t have traded that little guy for anything, and 13 years later still won’t. But had my heart been set strongly on a girl, my early relationship with Joey could have been damaged. My expectations could have affected the joy of his healthy birth.

Although sometimes enhancing our experiences, expectations can also cause negative feelings, lead to damaging actions, or blind us to the blessings of the actual outcome.

avoid disappointment expectations on God

Biblical Examples of Expectation Woes

Negative effects stemming from expectations are found throughout the Bible and can be seen clear back to Old Testament times, to the first man and woman really.

  • Expectations of being like God drove Eve to sample the forbidden fruit and give some to Adam.
  • Cain’s expectation of receiving God’s favor for his half-hearted sacrifice resulted in him killing his brother Abel in anger.
  • The Israelites’ expectation of an easy life once they escaped slavery in Egypt left them bitter and wandering in the desert for 40 years. 
  • The expectation King David’s son Absalom had of being king after his father’s reign led to his death.

And here’s a couple examples in the New Testament: 

  • Many of the Jews’ expectations of what the Messiah would be like kept them from seeing Jesus as the Savior.
  • Judas’s expectations of how nice it would be to have the 30 pieces of silver led to his betrayal of Jesus and ultimately caused him to take his own life. 

Expectations Today

Expectations in and of themselves aren’t bad. In fact, they can add to the enjoyment of a season or a certain event as we become excited and joyful in advance. The problem comes when we require what we expect to become reality. 

When we think something should be a certain way or demand a certain outcome, we can be left disillusioned and disgruntled and make poor choices when it doesn’t happen. 

This was common for me in my early adult years.

  • I expected marriage to be fun and fulfilling every day. Once those early days of excitement gave way to more routine dailiness, I became unhappy and made some poor choices in my attitude and behavior.
  • I expected to get pregnant easily and have few complications. Neither happened, resulting in anger and disillusionment and separation from God.
  • I expected to have all healthy children. When we were told my daughter would have lifelong disabilities, I became depressed and confused. 

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have expectations (as if that’s possible). But I am suggesting we should hold our expectations loosely, knowing God may have different ideas for us. 

Staving off Disappointment

What we expect life to look like isn’t always how it will be because God has a plan far better than our minds can ever dream up. And His plan never fails.

What we expect life to look like isn't always how it will be because God has a plan far better than we can dream up. Share on X

I have learned much about expectations and how to stave off disappointment since those early years. Although not perfect, my days hold much more joy and contentment now.  Instead of planning my life and hoping it works out, I look to God’s plan, which offers assured hope.

God is faithful to keep all His promises to us:

  • Never alone, check.
  • Supplies all our needs, check.
  • Sufficient grace, check.
  • Salvation to all who believe, check.
  • Strength in difficulty, check. 
  • A constant helper in the Holy Spirit, check. 

To avoid the disappointment of unmet expectations we need to center our expectations around God’s promises.

To avoid the disappointment of unmet expectations we need to center our expectations around God's promises. Share on X

Why? Because God never breaks His promises and because He knows what’s best for us. 

His faithfulness allows us expectations that never disappoint. 

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

Reflection: Has there been a time when you’ve been disappointed at an outcome and then later realized what a blessing it was?

 Since beginning nearly 3 years ago, I’ve counted more than 3,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! So here we go: #3198–3218, read the entire list by clicking here.
  • Good news from the doctor for Joey; Spending a few hours “catching up” with a friend; Rachel drying her own hair for the first time drying hair
  • Grandparents who are willing to come watch a game even when they don’t really like it or understand it–that’s love; Our crazy friendly cat; Super weather for sitting at a football game 
  • A simple gift given to brighten a friend’s day; The practice of gift-counting to help me be intentionally grateful; Pictures of a precious baby grandniece
  • Packed and ready to mentor parents of children with special needs who want to tell their story; Zucchini muffins; Before-bed game of Yahtzee
  • Watching the day awaken during my early morning travels; Mentoring other parents of children with disabilities; Eating and laughing with new friends
  • High fiving with Rachel; Home again after 2 days of networking, informing, and supporting; Audiobooks for long drives
  • Beautiful hymn-singing floating faintly across morning lake; Church kisses from Rach; Moon sliver hanging over the trees
By His Grace,



  1. Cecelia Lester (Quiet Spirit) on October 1, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Julie: As a college student, I expected things to be easy. I got disappointed a lot. As a wife and mother, this trend continued. At one point I decided I shouldn’t look forward to anything because nothing ever was as nice or fun or pretty as I thought it would be. But as I learned more about the LORD, I learned He truly was in control and things turned out better, sometimes better than I had ever hoped. Blessings to you and yours.

  2. Marisa Shadrick on October 1, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Great reminder. Love the tweets!

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Julie Sunne

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's blessings to get lost in its happenings. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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