In college I received a plaque that had a photograph of a cocker spaniel and the caption, “Blessed are those who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.” I paid little attention to the words, but I thought the picture of the dog was adorable and hung it on my dorm-room wall.
Months later, after a series of disappointments, the plaque’s words came alive to me. It’s true, I decided. If I don’t expect things of people or situations, then I won’t be disappointed when they don’t turn out the way I wanted. I lived with that philosophy for months. After a while, however, the mantra became unsettling. How does that philosophy fit with Christianity? I wondered. Aren’t Christians supposed to hope? Going to my Bible, I found numerous insights about hope and expectations. I learned that hoping in Christ brings peace and confidence. Expectations, however, can be land mines that damage relationships and cause despair.
The word expect or a derivative of it is used only thirty-one times in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. However, hope is used 139 times. Consider how expectations and hope are used in the following verses:
• “You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth” (Ps. 71:5).
• “The hope of the righteous is gladness, but the expectation of the wicked perishes” (Prov. 10:28)
• “The desire of the righteous is only good, but the expectation of the wicked is wrath” (Prov. 11:23).
What do you notice about the way the above verses use the words expectations and hope?
The word hope is associated with the righteous, gladness, and goodness. The word expectation is associated with the wicked, perishing, and wrath. In researching the Hebrew definitions for hope and expectation in the above verses, I made an interesting discovery. The word for hope in Psalm 71:5 and for expectation in Proverbs 10:28 and 11:23 both mean “cord, ground of hope, things hoped for, outcome.” What does that tell us in relation to the above verses? Both the righteous and wicked have a cord to which they hold. Both have a ground of hope on which they stand. Yet the outcome for each is drastically different. Why?
We’ll discover the reason as we inspect the believer’s hope. We’ll learn that our expectations of others can be dangerous land mines that lead to disappointment— especially if our expectations are skewed or unrealistic. But hope placed in God leads to blessings.
Debbie’s passion for Christ is evident in her energetic style and insightful personality. Having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 29, Debbie brings spiritual maturity and biblical depth to her audiences. Her spiritual beauty and willingness to be led by God bring a relevant message to women of all ages, backgrounds and denominations. Debbie is an authentic servant of Christ with a focus to encourage, challenge and inspire her audiences to become women of passion, purpose and prayer. [Read More]
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