When You Don’t Get What You’re Expecting

Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade, NY

Few human experiences can compare to joy of welcoming a child into this world. And even fewer experiences compare to the anguish of those who want to, but cannot. Every day couples carry the incredible burden—often silently and on their own—of infertility. They hope. They pray. They drastically change their lifestyles, homes, and jobs. They give every piece of themselves emotionally, financially, and physically to conceive and bear a child. But have not.

They hope, often against hope. And they wait, often disappointedly. The Psalmist cries, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?” (13:1-2)

At our church this Advent we are focusing on “What to Expect When You Are Expecting a Savior,” but it’s impossible for me to talk about expectations without recognizing those whose expectations are never met. Even as my wife and I hold our three children in our arms this Christmas, we carry the weight of our would-be-older-sibling that we lost at Christmas many years ago. It is a pain that does not go away. It’s a prayer, “How long must I bear pain in my soul?” that I remember.

Life is full of expectation and hope, but at times life seems equally full of pain and despair. We hope for healing, but instead we find death. We hope for meaningful employment, but instead we struggle to make ends meet. We hope for our relationships to be restored, but they end in divorce or cutting ties. We hope for loneliness and anxiety to depart, but instead they paralyze us with fear. We hope for justice—for us and for our whole world—but justice seems far, far away. We hope, but we do not always get what we are expecting.

But it’s in those times where our faithfulness and prayers are tested, that we find we need our faithfulness and prayers the most. The same Psalmist to started his prayer, “How long, O Lord?” ended his prayer saying, “…but I trust in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (13:5-6)

We may wait for any number of things on earth, but we never wait for God’s love. We never have to wait for God’s salvation. God loves us so much, he freely chose deeper pain and despair than we can imagine. God pours out his love for us in the gift of his own son and in the blood of our merciful redeemer.

Whatever you are waiting for, may you know that you are not waiting alone. And whatever you are hoping for, may you remember that whether you get what you’re expecting or have to wait awhile longer, we call him Emmanuel because God is with us… Because God

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

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Pastor Shawn is a 2010 graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, and he began his call at Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade NY that summer. While he spent four years learning and serving churches in South and North Carolina, as a Jamestown, NY native, Western New York has always been home. He is glad to be here. Pastor Shawn and his wife Carol Hannon met while attending SUNY Geneseo in the mid-2000s. They have enjoyed making their home together in Arcade with their daughters Quinn and Perry.   Pastor Shawn has a background in youth and outdoor ministry. He is a former camper and staff person at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center in Bemus Point, NY. He has also served camps in urban settings and oversees in Madagascar. In seminary he was recognized for gifts in Greek and New Testament, and in his senior year was recognized with awards in both Preaching and Biblical Studies. Pastor Shawn continues to emphasize the youth in his ministry, but not simply because they are the future church, but because they are the church of today.  He also enjoys working on service projects, and takes the role of planning meaningful and engaging worship seriously.  He loves helping people find ways to put their passion and energy to work making their community and other people’s worlds a better place. When he is not working at church, Shawn enjoys remodeling and construction projects around his family’s home.  But as busy as he gets, PS always has time for a quick nine (okay, 18) on the golf course. He enjoys playing sports of all kinds and fiddling with his guitar.