” What do you expect?”
This question often comes up in our relationships day to day!
We get irritated when our kids, our spouse, our co-workers, our friends or just anyone we run across, disappoint and fail to meet our expectations. Are these expectations too high or too low, are they completely unrealistic?
We even fail to meet our own expectations, don’t we?
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word expect in this way: “to regard something as likely to happen”. An expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. It’s a belief that someone will or should achieve something. The Cambridge English Dictionary says it is the feeling that good things are going to happen in the future!
Here are a few quotes I find interesting regarding expectations:
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed” -Alexander Pope
“There were two ways to be happy: Improve your reality or lower your expectations” -Jodi Picoult
“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.” -Stephen R. Covey
“I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”– Thomas Edison
So what do we expect of people, ourselves or God? What do we expect regarding our circumstances, health, job and family?
Are we going to be happy all the time?
There are 3 Greek words in the New Testament for ” expect” or ” expectation”
These are three aspects or perspectives or contexts of expectations and are defined as :
- to look forward to what will probably occur
- To wait for that of the realization of which one is assured
- Earnest expectation “ according to my earnest expectation and hope” ( NASB)
I like Philippians 1:20, where Paul uses both words, Expect and Hope, even as he is in prison. “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.” (NLT)
Now Hope, as a noun means a feeling of expectation and a desire for a certain thing to happen, also it is a feeling of trust. As a verb, to hope is to want something to happen or be the case.
“Hope is commonly used to mean a wish: it’s strength is the strength of the person’s desire. But in the Bible, hope is the “ Confident Expectation” of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness.” (got questions.org)
In English, the word Hope also conveys doubt, like “ I hope we can go to the store today,”
Biblical hope is a reality, not a feeling.
How can we be confident? Who is the only one we can truly have confidence in?
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word meaning hope, is Batah and its cognates demonstrates confidence, security, being without care therefore the concept of doubt is not part of hope. In the New Testament, doubt is not attached to the word for the Greek word(s) for hope either- Elpis/Elpizo.
1 Peter 1:3-4 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you!”
Pastor Rick Warren says of hope: “ What gives me the most hope everyday is God’s grace. Knowing that His grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.”
My husband Daniel, often quotes his mother’s saying “It didn’t take God by surprise”. Sometimes I laugh with this quote, other times, I get aggravated because I just really want and expect things to go my way! As a believer though, I have to remember that my earnest expectation, my confidence, my hope, must be in Him!
Philippians 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.”