“But I thought…”

Apr 20, 2018
2 min read

One of the most annoying phrases I hear from my kids is “but I thought…” I don’t know where they get these crazy assumptions from like “but I thought we were going to stay up late and eat ice cream,” or “but I thought we were going to have pizza for dinner.” My wife and I usually respond with something like, “Well, why on earth would you think that?”

The sad reality is that I often think it’s like that with us and God. Here’s my favorite example of this “but I thought” mentality from the scriptures:

“Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:10-13)

Naaman had preconceived ideas that clouded his vision, so much so that he became angry and “went away in a rage.” Do we do the same kind of thing? How about when we pray, what do we expect? Or how about when receiving a blessing, or talking with the Bishop? What about when listening to General Conference talks or studying things past leaders have done/taught/said?

What do we expect? Where did that expectation come from? Is it legitimate or is there another way to see things? I think much of life’s purpose is wrestling with these ideas and finding that sweet spot where light and truth materialize in the most unlikely of places and in the most unlikely of ways; that’s where God seems to like to do his work.

Namaan’s attitude was way off base, but he did the right thing in the end by putting his own ideas aside and trusting God; we can do the same.


  1. Richard J. Nobbe III

    But I thought at some point in this post you would define a key word from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.

  2. Particle Man

    If an expectation, assumption, or hope hasn’t been reasonably guaranteed, the outcome is merely wishful thinking. Such expectations are unrealistic and are just waiting to be dashed.

    I decided a long time ago to not have expectations on unfounded hopes and to not hinge my happiness on them.

    When I do have an expectation, I strive to base it on circumstances or eternal principles. In matters of faith, this is where the natural man’s puny logic can dead-end and be surpassed with hope based on eternal principles.

    • Well done, you brought up a great point that is a key component to this topic. While basing one’s expectations upon imagined assumptions is a recipe for disappointment, basing expectations on the promises of God’s principles is the essence of faith.

      The flaw is not in expecting something, it is in the what and why. Expectations based on eternal principles should always bear the promised fruit. Outside of that, all other expectations may or may not find fulfillment but are necessary to make to function in this mortal world.

      While we are often disappointed when we put our trust in family, leaders, institutions, neighbors, friends, or ourselves, we should maintain a continual study of the doctrines and principles of God so that we are not left without a foundation in this life or the life to come.

      Thank you for your thoughts.

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