As I am in the middle of massive changes in my life, I was quite interested to hear the author of The Shack, William P Young talk about the importance of understanding the difference between anticipating something and expecting a certain outcome. Why is it that sometimes I get really upset or am devastated when things do not turn out as I think they should? Does God want me to live with a different mindset?
In Jeremiah 17 there is a mention of the word hope. If we learnt what hope is through understanding the difference between anticipation and expectation, could we actually live a life with more joy and freedom?
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord. Jeremiah 17:7
To begin with, understanding the two words is very important. In the online Cambridge Dictionary and from Deb Wolf's blog, we find the following meanings:-
consider probable or certain
consider reasonable, owed, or necessary
consider bound in duty or obligated
look forward to
regard as likely
When looking at the two definitions, it is clear that they are both quite similar but so very different. The difference lies in our attitude towards what is ahead. When we expect something there is a sense that we are entitled to what we believe should happen. With entitlement, we are expecting a certain outcome which is reliant on the way other people react and behave. More specifically, we are only happy when they act or behave in the way we want them to. The outcome is clearly fixed in our mind and we can only be happy if we get this outcome. Anything less and we are disappointed and even crushed.
When we anticipate something our mindset is totally different. We know the outcome is not linked to who we are or what we have done and what happens then is open to God. We can know good things are ahead because we trust God, but the outcome is totally outside our control. We look forward to what is ahead and we hope for good things but the outcomes are often a surprise.
The difference is in our attitude. One is hope and one is entitlement. Hope allows for any number of things to happen. Hope keeps us open to possibilities we couldn’t even imagine. Entitlement usually has a very specific outcome. It relies on other people to react and behave in the way we want them to. (Coach and Mentor Group)
As Christians, we realise that God's work in our lives is a work of grace. In Webster's New World College Dictionary we find that grace is "The unmerited love and favour of God toward human beings; divine influence acting in a person to make the person pure, morally strong; the condition of a person brought to God's favour through this influence; a special virtue, gift, or help given to a person by God." In Ephesians we read about God's grace:-
8 For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! 9 So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving. Ephesians 2:8-9
As we understand that God has extended to us grace, and what He does in our lives is totally not deserved things change. God is working through grace to love us, provide for us and do things in our lives that we cannot earn or work for. As we understand that God is a good God, and He is calling us into His family so He can be our heavenly father, we find things happen beyond what we expect. As we learn that He is God, our creator, our Heavenly Father and is love, we can stop building up in our mind that we are entitled, that we know what is best for us and trust our lives and situation will work out for the best when we ask Him to take control.
24-26 ‘May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favour, and give you his peace.’ Numbers 6:24-26. TLB
When we know God wants to bless us, that He actually knows what is best and can achieve things beyond anything we can imagine, we can move away from a position of expectation; where we are only happy with a certain outcome. Instead, we relax knowing God is good, He is love and as our Heavenly Father wants to bless us, see us grow and mature and be successful in the things He has made us for. As we learn to anticipate that good things are ahead, even when we are not certain what they are, we live a life where it is always Christmas. God wants us to unwrap His blessing and is so excited to see the looks of joy and happiness when He reveals what He has done.
To finish, I believe that Psalm 21 has so much to encourage you today as you walk forward in anticipation of what God has ahead. To understand more of what God is saying to us, He is calling us to mature so we can rule and reign as kings and priests. In Revelation, we read:-
And have made us kings and priests to our God, And we shall reign on the earth.”
In Psalm 21 we read:-
1 Lord, because of your strength the king is strong.
Look how he rejoices in you!
He bursts out with a joyful song because of your victory!
(God gives you strength and rejoices in you. Sing joyfully as God gives you victory!)
2 For you have given him his heart’s desire,
anything and everything he asks for.
You haven’t withheld a thing from your betrothed one.
Pause in his presence
(God wants to give you your heart's desire. He gives you what you ask for and will not hold anything back from you!)
3 Rich blessings overflow with every encounter with you,
and you placed a royal crown of gold upon his head.
(Every time we have time with God He blesses us. He places us in a position so we can rule and reign.)
4 He wanted resurrection—you have given it to him and more!
The days of his blessing stretch on one after another, forever!
(Resurrection from the dead is just the start. Each day God is blessing us!)
5 You have honoured him and made him famous.
Glory garments are upon him,
and you surround him with splendour and majesty.
(Your position in the world comes through God's hand! He will surround you with majesty and splendour!)
6 Your victory heaps blessing after blessing upon him.
What joy and bliss he tastes, rejoicing before your face!
(Victory is assured. Joy and bliss are ahead as God works in your life!)
7 For the king trusts endlessly in you,
and he will never stumble, never fall.
Your forever-love never fails and holds him firm.
(As you trust God with everything you will never fall. This is a foundation that will cause you to never be moved )
Walk forward today in anticipation that God has good things ahead for you, your family and for the world. Be careful not to live in such a way that you expect things to turn out in the way you believe is best, but anticipate that God is good and He will work in your life and situation so what happens is best from God's perspective. Then what you see happen will never disappoint and you can always look forward to God working and surprising you in the way He works things out ...... in the end! Christmas is coming! Get ready to see what is under the wrapping!
Your hope is the LORD. Through this hope anticipate good things are ahead!