Can Expectations be a Good Thing?

Is it July already?

It seems like it was just a few days ago that a brand new year arrived and I was spending time looking back over 2017, taking stock of where I saw spiritual growth and, sadly, where I saw struggle with sin. During my reflection time, I discovered an entirely new way that I have been self-protecting for at least two years.

As I sought the Lord in review of the previous year, one word kept coming to my mind: Expectation. As a re|engage leader, my first thought was about how expectations can be one of the pitfalls of marriage. As I kept praying and meditating on this one word, I came to a new awareness of how it applies to my life.

Expectation can get a bad rap, but it can also be a good thing; it is a strong belief that something will happen—it breeds hope. Because hope is a feeling of expectation and desire, when desires harden to the point of becoming rigid expectations, a line is crossed that can potentially lead to trouble.

“Giving up on seeing God work in this one area and ‘having no expectation’ is really another form of proud unbelief.”

It became painfully obvious to me and probably others who are close to me that there was one area in my life where I had given up on seeing God work. I can’t truthfully say unanswered prayer led me here. It would be more accurate to say that I gave up when my prayer was not answered the way I expected. 1 John 5: 14 (ESV) says “this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” When I hit the point of praying for a certain family member for over two decades and still saw nothing—no visible proof of the Lord working—I subconsciously decided I was done. I lost my expectation that God would answer. If I stopped hoping and expecting, then I could self-protect from being disappointed anymore. I thought it was more biblical and in line with God’s will if I stopped talking to Him about my hopes and dreams and accepted what He was doing, or not doing, as my final answer.

Here is what I have learned. Giving up on seeing God work in this one area and “having no expectation” is really another form of proud unbelief. I must hold on to the expectation that God will work. At the same time, I cannot give up on praying. God is well aware of my hopes and desires, whether I pray about them or not. Hebrews 4:16 tells me to “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” It is there that I will find what I need, even when I feel like God is not hearing my prayers. Even when circumstances do not seem to change, He is still at work in us and in the world as we come to Him in prayer. Prayer is not just telling God our needs, but allowing Him to comfort, challenge, correct and change us with His mercy and grace.

“I am free to live in the hopeful expectation that God is good no matter what, He does answer prayers, and He always keeps his promises.”

Lastly, I should pray in accordance with God’s will. I can’t let my expectation of how I want God to answer my prayer corrupt my view of who He is. I have to entrust these things to Him. If He chooses in His sovereignty to not to answer this prayer my way, then He has something much better planned. His ways and thoughts are so much higher and better than mine and that’s where I need to land each and every day. I am free to live in the hopeful expectation that God is good no matter what, He does answer prayers, and He always keeps his promises.

Beverly Kinard

Beverly Kinard has been married to her college sweetheart for 30 years and is making the most of her empty nest. When she is not in the kitchen trying a new recipe, you can find her traveling, watching college football, or shopping for shoes. One of her greatest desires is to finish well the race the Lord has laid out before her!