In 1861 Charles Dickens wrote a novel called Great Expectations. It is, as the title indicates, about the great expectations or hopes of an orphan named “Pip” who hopes to grow up to become a wealthy English gentleman. The story is about what happens to those expectations.

Remember the “great expectations” of your own youth? What did you want to become? What did you hope to accomplish? What did you hope to have?

If you have grown a bit older now, do you find yourself taking inventory of that wish list? How many dreams were derailed along the way? How did some of those expectations change? How many hopes came happily to pass? How many great expectations became grand disappointments? Did you lower your expectations? Did you find a left-handed sort of comfort in the old line: “Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed?”

Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”

Our difficulty is that we often expect too little from our dear Father in heaven.

Jesus once asked: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” Or, as He puts it in another place, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?”

Jesus appeals to us earthly fathers, sinful and imperfect as we are. If your kid asks for a piece of bread, you wouldn’t put a stone on his plate. If he asks for a piece of fish, you wouldn’t throw a rattlesnake on his high chair, would you? Of course, foolish little children may think that stones are bread and snakes are fish. You and I often think we know what we need – but if God gave it to us – that might be the worst thing in the world for us.

Have you ever looked back with a sigh of thanks to God for not giving you something you wanted? Our Father will never do a number on us. He may deny the letter of our request to spare us untold grief here or hereafter.

We don’t always know how to pray. So the Holy Spirit helps us, says the Bible, translating our prayers into the ear of the Father so that we do not end up with stones instead of bread or snakes instead of fish.

Our Father only asks us to trust that our “great expectations” of His goodness are never misplaced. His only-begotten Son died and rose again to give us “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Trust Him. Your great expectations will not be disappointed.