ep. 35 on what to do with unmet expectations

Maggie Combs

ep. 35 | What to Do with Unmet Expectations with Maggie Combs

On today’s episode of the Journeywomen podcast, I chatted with Maggie Combs about the deep desires of our hearts that cause real grief when they remain unfulfilled. Maggie is the author of UnsuperMommy and mama to her three busy boys: Isaac, Zander, and Judah. She blames their unending energy and solid build completely on her tall, active husband, Wes. Maggie and I talked about everything from why God allows some of our desires to go unmet to where the gospel meets us in those unmet expectations. She said,

“Only in nearness to God will we have all of our desire fulfilled. I like to call this holy discontent. This means that the purpose of this unmet desire is to constantly remind you that only God will satisfy the unending desire of your heart. Elizabeth Elliot says, ‘Heaven is not here, it’s there. If we were given all that we wanted here our hearts would settle for this world and not the next.’ So this holy discontentment is a kindness to keep us longing for more of God.”  

Maggie literally had me saying, “Amen,” throughout the podcast which thankfully, doesn’t happen often, but I know you guys will be fist pumping with me as she gracefully and powerfully brings the truth on this episode. I hope ya’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

  1. Tell us about who you are and what you do.

  2. At this point in the year, a lot of us are already experiencing unmet expectations, but I want to talk about the deeper desires of the heart that cause real grief when they aren't fulfilled. Have you ever experienced this? If so, what did that look like for you?

  3. Can you give us examples of some big desires that we might unknowingly maintain?

  4. I think when people hear the word "expectations" they automatically think that expectations are negative. Are desires like these bad, good, or could they be neutral?

  5. We both know and believe that God is Sovereign over all things. Since this is the case, why do you think God allows some of our desires to go unmet?

  6. What's a normal response when our expectations go unfulfilled? What kind of response did you have, personally?

  7. When might we be able to detect that our desires are setting themselves up against our desire for God?

  8. If this is the case, what would you suggest? What response does Scripture call us to when we become aware of this?

  9. Where does the gospel meet us in our unmet expectations?

  10. How can we walk forward in the grace of the gospel without wallowing in sadness or shame?

  11. How can we minister to our sisters who are struggling with grieving over unmet desires?



  1. What 3 resources would you recommend for someone wanting to grow in this area?

  2. What are 3 of your simple joys?

  3. Who has had the biggest influence on your own journey with Jesus?



“These desires are good in their right place. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have children. The Bible tells us to desire a happy marriage and to work towards that. But we have to understand that first, God made us to be desirers. He made us to desire the best thing for our lives. The best thing for our lives is God. So the problem happens when these other good desires that are good in and of themselves, start to take God’s place in our life.”

“I like to picture Jesus seated on the throne of my heart. The good desires are at the bottom, submitted to His Sovereign goodness. But any time that I stop looking at Him, focusing on Him, and keeping Him the number one in my life, and look down at all of those good desires and start letting my mind spend all this time dwelling on how much I want those good things, He is no longer on the throne of my life and those good desires just start crawling their way up onto the throne.”

“Paul David Tripp says that, ‘A desire for a good thing becomes a bad thing when it becomes the ruling thing.’” 

“Devastation is always a tip-off for idolatry.” - Brad Bigney  

“When Jesus is on our throne, the fruit of the Spirit gives us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. But when those good desires get on the throne we get anger, fear, malice, short-temperedness, harshness, and all of those big emotions that are sure signs that Jesus is no longer the focus of our lives.” 

“We need to pull in some Scripture here and really talk about how God talks about desire. Psalm 145 says, “You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.” So here’s the thing: it says He satisfies the desire, not the desires, plural. Like I said before, we were made to be desirers. We were made to desire God and every living thing ultimately has one desire and that’s for Him! But in this fallen world our sin just twists our desires around so that we seek it in every place, but the One Place it will be found.”

“Kindness is personal. It tells us that God cares about how it impacts us. Roman 2:4 says that He actually uses His kindness to lead us to repentance. Psalm 145:17 says that He is both righteous in His works and kind in them. So that leads to this question, ‘How is it that not giving me this really good thing that I really, really want, kind? How is that kind? Well, it is kind in that withholding that one good thing, God is giving us the one True Desire of our heart that we are always trying so desperately to satisfy and that is more of God in our lives. The next verse in Psalm 145 says that Yahweh is near to all who call on Him. So may the thing that we lack, that we wanted so bad, draw us to call on Him. Then He will draw near. And anything that draws us nearer to God is a kindness.” 

“Only in nearness to God will we have all of our desire fulfilled. I like to call this holy discontent. This means that this purpose of this unmet desire is to constantly remind you that only God will satisfy the unending desire of your heart. Elizabeth Elliot says, ‘Heaven is not here, it’s there. If we were given all that we wanted here our hearts would settle for this world and not the next.’ So this holy discontentment is a kindness to keep us longing for more of God.”

“In a constant state of always wanting and never getting, we can be fully satisfied in Christ.”

“We don’t just have to grieve the loss of things that we had that were taken away from us. It is natural and right to grieve the loss of good desires that we never received.”

“When you push the gospel out of one area of your life, you don’t get to keep it everywhere else.” 

“In John Piper’s video ‘Embrace the Life God Has Given You’ he said something like there are two types of grief. Grieving something you had that was taken from you. And grieving something you’ve always wanted that you’ve never received… Have your tears, have your sadness and sorrow before the Lord, but don’t live in that place. Wash your face and embrace the life the Lord has given you.”

“Jesus’ death on the cross reminds us that even God humbled Himself to experience suffering… He even went to the Lord in Gethsemane and said, ‘If it’s possible, take this cup from me,’ but then Jesus said, ‘Not my will, but Your will be done.’ To walk in the steps of that kind of humble, suffering servant is a gift. We will know Jesus more and fellowship with Him more through experiencing the suffering of not having this impediment removed. The gospel also reminds us that God already met all of our needs in the Person of Jesus.” 

“It’s easy when you have an unmet desire like this to feel like God is withholding from you. But God cannot withhold the best from us, because He already gave the best to us in Jesus. All of the promises are ‘yes’ to those who believe. All of the promises, even if you’re hurting, even if you don’t have a husband, even if you don’t have children, God is giving you everything you need for the life He has called you to and He has given you everything you need to meet the desire of your heart and that is in the Person of Jesus. We can have a joyful and fulfilling life simply because we have Jesus.” 

“Abiding has been an intimidating word for me in my past Christian life… What does that even mean? But you don’t really want to ask because people give you really open answers and you end up feeling really dumb. Just think about your relationship with one of the most important people in your life, like your husband, your best friend, your mom. You don’t talk to them once in the morning and just forget about them for the rest of the day. You text with them, you look at their Instagram pictures, you think about them, you wish they were there, and you think about when you’re going to spend time with them again. And then you think about them as you’re doing different things… and you think of them as you make plans for your life, how your plans might impact them, and how their thoughts might impact your plans. That’s all abiding with Jesus is! That you’re having continual communication with him. That He be the person that you ‘call on’ when you’re having a really rough day. That’s all abiding is. Making Jesus like those most important people in our lives. When we do that, He stays on the throne, our focus stays on God instead of our circumstances, and all of these good things stay in their right place, seated at the Lord’s feet.”



Words Worth Noting Grief and Sorrow Cards

Sovereign by Chris Tomlin

God is Good by Dustin Kensrue

Biblical Counseling


Faith Biblical Counseling Conference




Sunsets and Sunrises

Fainting Goats



Gospel Treason by Brad Bigney

Gospel Treason Sermon by Brad Bigney

The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

Embrace the Life God has Given You Video by John Piper

YouVersion App

Bible.is App

Connect with MAGGIE


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