Expectations vs. Expectancy

by Ava Pennington

Have you recently experienced frustration? Something or someone irritated you?  Plans didn’t go your way?

That seems to be happening to me more as of late. I get annoyed at the increased seasonal traffic in south Florida. I’m frustrated by people who don’t follow through on what they said they would do. I’m irritated by circumstances that cause me to make two separate trips to purchase the same item.

But what if the cause of the irritation is not external at all? What if I’m the cause of my own frustration? Someone once said “the level of your frustration is directly related to the level of your expectations.”

Ouch.

So the real cause of my own grief is most likely…me.

Knowing we live in a broken world, why do I go through life expecting people to respond perfectly? Especially when I know I don’t!

Understanding that our little town experiences a population surge during the winter season, why do I get annoyed at the increased traffic?

Failing to take the time to plan properly, why am I surprised that one task requires multiple trips to the store?

Unrealistic expectations. Expectations grounded in reality as I want it to be, rather than the way it is.

Ancient Israel had a similar problem. Their expectations of the coming Messiah were based on cherry-picked prophecies. The sad result was that they didn’t recognize Him when He did come. They were so busy looking for a victorious military leader that they missed the Suffering Servant who came to redeem humanity.

So what’s the answer?

I believe the answer for a Christian is to live expectantly.

To live expectantly is to live in without setting specific expectations or demands on what that will look like. Living expectantly allows us to recognize where the Holy Spirit might be moving in areas we would not normally look for Him. And it communicates that we are satisfied with whatever the Lord does, allows, or gives—without comparing it to our own agenda or shopping list.

Those who live expectantly have the privilege of living out a truth understood by martyred missionary Jim Elliot: “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him.”

Will you join me? Together, let’s put aside our expectations and live in daily expectancy for how God will show Himself active in our life. And as He does, share your experiences with others to increase their own sense of expectancy.

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3 ESV).

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: What expectations do you need to give up in order to live expectantly?

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

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