Raising Our Hopes

Positive expectation: That feeling you had as a child on Christmas morning when you woke up and remembered what day it was. It’s that wonderful mixture of adrenaline, pleasure, excitement and anticipation of something good that was going to happen to you. It was so real you could almost taste it.

However, as we grew older, our expectation of good took a sharp downward turn. We experienced disappointment over and over and became wary of getting our hopes up. “Expectation is the root of all heartache,” Shakespeare said.  “Don’t expect things to happen. It is better to be surprised, than to be disappointed,” the pessimist tells us. To be truly happy: “Improve your reality, or lower your expectations.”

But, is that how God wants us to live? Being cynical and having little expectation of good in order to insulate ourselves from disappointment? Perhaps our problem has been not in expectation itself but in whom or what we put our expectation:

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;I shall not be moved. (Psalm 62:5-6, NKJV, emphasis added)

Israel’s King David certainly had his share of disappointments and crushing despair, especially in his personal life. The context of this psalm is a time of attack and oppression from his enemies, but David remains confident in God’s power to help him. Through his experience with God, he knows that the problems around him are not stronger than God’s stability, defense and saving power, so he expects God to deliver him completely.

When you are going through difficulties, do you expect God to help you or do you expect the worst? Do you expect you will have to figure things out on your own and make do with your own resources, or do you expect that God will come through for you with the miracle you need?

Hope is a prevalent theme in the New Testament, and one that is closely linked to our expectancy of God’s goodness. Unfortunately, what “hope” means in our everyday vernacular is much different than how the Bible uses this term, so the impact of the message is often lost on us.

In modern speech, we use this word synonymously with “wish for,” as in, “I hope it stops raining”; “I hope I can find a parking space close to the entrance to the store”; “I hope my boss gives me a raise.”

Usually, there is no expectancy implied that what we hope for will happen. It’s a weak, watered-down version of the definition as it is used in the New Testament, which is a pleasurable anticipation or expectation of good.

Using that definition in place of “hope” in the 80-plus verses that it is used in the New Testament could drastically alter how you understand God’s desire for you to live. Here is one example:

May the God of expectation fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with expectation by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13, NIV, the word expectation used in place of hope)

God wants our expectation of His goodness to OVERFLOW in our lives. This can only happen through the Holy Spirit’s power working in us. He is the God of expectation, not disappointment. If we hang around Him, we will be people of expectation.

If we suffer from a lack of joy and peace in our lives, it might be because we have little expectation of God’s goodness. We are filled with joy and peace as we expect HIm to show up and show Himself strong on our behalf.

It’s time to raise our hopes high and let God fill them.

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