“With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: ‘He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.’ And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.” — Ezra 3:11–12
What a joyous moment it must have been when the foundation for the Second Temple had been completed. The Jewish people had succeeded in returning to their homeland after a 70-year exile and now they were well on their way to rebuilding the Temple that the Babylonians had destroyed. Everything would be good again, just like it once was.
The completion of the Temple foundation was a big deal. They blasted the trumpets, clanked the cymbals, and sang praises to the LORD. The joy was palpable and sounds of celebration could be heard from afar. But not everyone was happy.
Many of the elders who had seen the First Temple before its destruction wept at the site of the new Temple’s foundation. Why? Because it was obvious to them that the Second Temple paled in comparison to the first. They were disappointed, and so what should have been a joyful victory was experienced as defeat.
On the other hand, those who couldn’t remember or never saw the First Temple in all its glory – they were ecstatic! To them, the Second Temple was the greatest accomplishment that they had ever known.
While we can admire the elders for their desire to see God’s Temple rebuilt in the most glorious way possible, we can also learn from the young who had no such expectations. Expectations are often an invitation to disappointment. That’s because our expectations are rarely met. Home renovations seldom turn out exactly like home owners would have liked. Children are hardly ever the perfect little people their parents envision when they are born. The lives we live now are not always in sync with what we might have imagined when we were younger.
It doesn’t really matter if things end up better or worse. The fact is that when we are attached to things turning out a certain way, we are bound to experience defeat. The trick is to shed the expectations of what should be, so that we can experience the joy of what actually is.
Are your great expectations getting you down? Do you find yourself thinking about how different you wish things would be? Don’t let the beauty of the moment pass you by! Open your eyes to the reality around you – without any expectations of what you think should be. Then “with praise and thanksgiving,” you too will also be able to sing to God!