Managing Expectations

Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the Lord became very angry, and Moses was displeased. -Numbers 11:1-15 

Dear members and friends,

Whether they serve us or not, we often have trouble letting go of expectations. As the definition of expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or take place in the future,” we desire certain results in the future as a consequence of our current choices or efforts. Therefore, when our expectations are met, we are pleased and delighted. However, when our expectations are not met, we are saddened and at times angry and complain. In Numbers, the Israelites might have had a certain expectation when they chose to follow Moses, who was sent by God. In the beginning, they were joyous for their newly-gained liberation from forced labor and slavery. However, when they realized that life outside of Egypt was not what they expected, they complained by saying, “We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic, but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (Number 11:5-6) Somehow, they seem to have forgotten about their pain and suffering while enslaved!

Spiritual growth is similar to the story of Israelites complaining in the wilderness after exiting Egypt. They were getting sick of eating manna, and deeply missed the delicious food they enjoyed in Egypt. According to Swedenborg, spiritual growth happens by going through something called spiritual temptation. A sign of being in a spiritual temptation is feeling like you are wandering in a desolate place with very limited options or enjoyment. Thus, when we are in a spiritual temptation, we would miss what we had enjoyed before just like the Israelites missed the food they ate in Egypt. However, what we are forgetting at this moment is that the spiritual temptation started because we chose to liberate ourselves from an unhealthy way of being and living. Consequently, we initiated the process of liberation voluntarily with the hope of achieving a life that is truly fulfilling.  

My brothers and sisters, being a faithful servant to God does not always bring an immediate joy and fulfillment. In fact, at times it can cause us to feel lost and lonely. However, let us remember that when the Israelites were in the wilderness, God was present with them day and night, and they were not alone, but with the great leader Moses. 

Blessings, Rev. Lee