“Annie, I want a 100 on that exam today. And stop at MacDonald’s for a fish sandwich; fish is good brain food,” said my friend Joan. I was just about to leave work to take my final accounting exam (I was working on an associate degree in business at the time). The words Joan spoke over me, rang in my head as I walked out the door. ‘One Hundred!, (I was thinking to myself), I’ll be happy to get anything above a passing grade.’
As I was taking the exam, I was glad I took Joan’s advice and stopped for a Filet-O-Fish sandwich at MacDonald’s on the way to school. The sandwich was good and the answers to the accounting problems seemed to be coming faster than usual. Maybe, I thought, there was something to this – “fish is brain food” stuff.
Joan was happy when I told her that I got a 96 on my exam but said, she knew I could still do better.
In those days (1987), I had low expectations for myself, a bad attitude as accompaniment, and faith in no one or nothing. But Joan expected me to get an A-plus, and I did!
Expectation – A Belief That Someone Will or Should Achieve Something
My friend Joan, expected me to achieve a high test score and she was happy that I did. But since her expectation was based mostly on her good wishes and concern for me, it was possible for that expectation to have been frustrated if I didn’t get a high grade. And during that time in my life, me not getting a high grade was the more likely outcome.
I smile thinking back about Joan’s encouragement and care for me and God’s hand of blessing in my life. Even when my heart and mind were far from Him (Joan’s too), He had used Joan (once again) to bless me (more about Joan another time, as God may lead…).
As far as my test was concerned, Joan’s expectation was realized. But when our hopes, opinions, and feelings are not anchored on tangible, solid ground (the promises of God’s Word), the outcome of our expectations can never be certain. Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3). We (as children of God) are instructed not to depend on uncertain, changing circumstances, but on the unchanging promises of the Word of God. Putting our trust in expectations motivated by our good wishes, emotions, hopes, etc… can’t promise the desired outcome. Only expectations that are built/based on the truth of our faith in God and His Word, in the love and unchangeable character of God, will bring God’s Words to life.
Faith – Complete Trust or Confidence in Someone or Something
Real, life-changing faith always lives/walks together with expectation in the promises of God’s Word. God speaks, we believe. When we believe the promises of a good and loving God, we expect to see them manifested/demonstrated/fulfilled in the midst of our lives. Faith that is not accompanied by action (confident hope/expectation) is not true, life-saving, life-changing, Biblical faith.
If a good friend told you he/she would pick you up at the train station at 7:00 p.m., would you make a reservation for a rental car? Probably not, because you expect your friend to be there as promised by his/her word. If we can place our trust in the ‘promise’ of a friend who has no sovereign power over any of life’s circumstances, why then can’t we hold on to our trust in Jesus, who we say we believe is all-powerful and eternally perfect in all His attributes? Is it because the event at the train station would resolve quickly and require no ongoing trust during uncertain circumstances? Do we expect more from the word of a friend than the Word of our Creator God? Is our faith only steady when it can see an expected end, or can God still be expected to be faithful with our lives over a long period of turmoil and/or uncertainty? Will the promises of His Word still stand in our expectations?
In Romans 8: 28-29 we are given a promise. The promise is not that all things are good, but that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. The promise being, that God’s children receive good things from Him and God receives the glory for His good work in us, as we are conformed to the image of his Son… The word conformed means to comply/agree/respect. It implies that we live in union with God and His purposes over the course of our lives, expecting Him to perform what He has promised, in His time. The women with the issue of blood, the Roman centurion, and the Samaritan women all expected Jesus to work all things together for good:
When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” – Faith + expectation. Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. And He said unto her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free from your suffering” (Mark 5: 25-29, 34).
Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! As you have believed, so will it be done for you.” – Faith + expectation. And his servant was healed at that very hour (Matthew 8:13).
“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” – Faith + expectation. Then Jesus told her, “Because of this answer, you may go. The demon has left your daughter”… (Mark 7: 28-29).
Faith – Sees The Invisible And Expects The ‘Impossible’
By faith, we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command (by God’s very Word, the universe was formed!), so that what is seen (the entire Creation) was not made out of what was visible (God’s Words) Hebrews 11:3. If we as Christians believe that God’s Words create (“Let there be“…), we should be able to trust His creative, life-giving Words for us today. Then live by faith, speaking His Word over our lives and circumstances with expectation for His promises to be made visible. Speaking more about Jesus, the problem Solver, than about the problem.
The very Words of God hold the same creative power in our mouths today as they did in the beginning, at Creation. The Holy Spirit once told Reinhard Bonnke, German evangelist – “My Words in your mouth are just as powerful as they are in Mine.”
Our expectations to see the manifestation of His promises in our lives should come from our confidence in the character of God and the power of His Word. In the verses below, we see more examples of confident expectation in our Biblical brothers and sisters who have walked before us:
Mary and Elisabeth not only believed…, they expected. And their Lord did not disappoint. Elizabeth says to Mary – “And blessed is she who believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).
Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you;” and their eyes were opened (Matthew 9:29-30).
Abraham believed God, who quickens the dead and calls those things which are not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope (expected), that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded (expectant) that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform (Romans 4: 17-21).
Unbelief – Sees The Circumstances And Expects The Ordinary
And Jesus did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith (Matthew 13:58).
But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrew 11:6).
If you are/were facing a dilemma, would your response to the sentences below be:
A. I believe God can rectify this problem.
B. I believe God will rectify this problem.
Faith joined with expectation says: The Bible is God’s promises to me, I know God can not lie. I believe God promises are trustworthy. I expect that He is watching over His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12). This is personalized faith. God’s promises to me! This proclamation starts with faith, progresses to expectation. e.g. – I work, I expect to get paid. Someone tells me they sent me a check in the mail, I watch (expect) the mail for my check.
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him? (Matthew 7:11)
A Call to Persevere in Faith
In closing, I, along with the writer of Hebrews, exhort us as the living body of Christ to: Let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word (Hebrews 10:23).