How Do I Become Expectant?
Jerry N. Duncan, Ph.D., ABPP
Do you remember the early 70’s? Hal Lindsey had just published, The Late Great Planet Earth . His descriptions of recently fulfilled prophecies and what it meant in terms of God’s plan for wrapping up man’s existence on earth created quite a revival among many followers of Jesus. It was a time of great expectation. It was a time of conscious awareness and deliberate commitment to God and His plans.
There seem to be many episodes of expectation recorded in the Bible-- times of expecting the birth of a child in old age, deliverance from centuries of slavery, entering and possessing a promised land, the birth of the promised Messiah, the return of this Messiah before the destruction of Earth as we know it, the creation of a new Heaven and a new Earth, and the expectation of spending eternity with a a creator who loves us deeply.
Positive expectation has often sustained hearts during painful and troubled times. One author differentiates between cultural and Biblical hope/expectation— “Hope identified as cultural hope is merely an optimistic desire that something will be fulfilled. This hope is not a guaranteed hope because it is subject to changeable people and circumstances.
Hope identified as Christian hope is an optimistic assurance that something will be fulfilled. This hope is a guaranteed hope not subject to change, but rather anchored in our unchangeable Savior and Lord. Hope in the New Testament is conveyed by the Greek word elpis , which means a "favorable and confident expectation" relating to the future.
Although the Bible uses the word hope in both the secular and the spiritual sense, the focus of our Christian hope is always based on the guaranteed promises of God. Thus, this hope will never be a disappointment. As Christians, we are promised peace with God....’We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.’ ( Romans 5:3-5 )”
Therefore, it appears that hope that is more than just optimistic desire requires exposure to truth from a reliable and trusted source. Our choice to spend time reading and discussing with others the clear and specific promises of God fuels the hope that seems to be necessary for our surviving/thriving in a world that is full of difficult and painful life experiences.
Find someone that shares your desire for more than just a passive existence of thumb twiddling and waiting for Heaven “some day.” Heaven will be great, but now is where we currently live.
You will notice a difference between truth that is experienced individually, and truth that is experienced and processed with someone else. For some reason, shared expectation seems to have a richness and depth that we can’t experience alone.
May God richly bless your hunt for the truth, and someone to share it with.