What is the difference between hope and expectation?
Hope, in a biblical sense, is trusting in the certain promises of God. He said he will rescue and deliver me, provide for me, pour grace out on me, and I believe him for that.
Expectation, in a human sense, is wanting certain things 'performed' for me by others. In other words, they are more often than not unspoken demands I have towards other people and situations.
What are your hopes for 2015 and what are your expectations?
Most of the time we confuse these two ideas. We will us the word hope in situations that are nothing more then my personal expectations. How many times have you heard your mom say when you were a kid, "I was hoping you would grow up some day and finally clean your room on your own?" That is a wrong use of the word hope.
I myself was hoping this past year that God was finally going to let me win the million dollar lotto. It didn't happen. That wasn't hope, that was foolish & false expectation. Especially when I never even bought a lotto ticket. But God can do the impossible, right? Well he didn't for me, and I am sorely disappointed!
You can live and thrive on real hope; but you can not live for long on expectation. That is why in this new year of 2015, you need to know the difference. I find when people replace the word hope for expectation in their minds - - they grow bitter, angry and they are perennially disappointed when things don't turn out the way they were hoping; or should I say, naively expecting.
What are things we can hope for this year?
* God is working in all things; situations, relationships and crises (Romans 8:28).
* God will pour out his grace and mercy when you call to him in your time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
* God will never leave us or forsake us in our darkest hour this next year; even when we are financially strapped (Hebrews 13:5).
* God will provide if we keep our eye on Him and His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33-34).
We have been given certain promises concerning these items. You can bank on them - - and that is biblical hope!
What are things most of us expect for a new year?
* People will not lie to us, forget about us, insult us, or cheat us.
* Circumstances will not be too much to handle, they will not overwhelm us, they will not catch us by surprise.
* The Government will make decisions I agree with.
* God will give me whatever I want, even when I don't pray about it.
* My spouse will always be smiling, happy, smelling good, buying me presents, taking me to exotic locals, complimenting me, be able to read my mind before I even talk, and will watch my favorite movie with me every night.
Let me break it to you now: Not one of these expectations will be met in the next year. Maybe some bright rays of sun will shine through once in awhile, but I can guarantee you it won't happen everyday. So, as the old saying goes, "If you are waiting for these things to occur, 'Don't hold your breath!'"
I was reading recently the book "The Great Divorce" by C. S. Lewis; and through his brilliant use of metaphor and imagination he describes the attitudes of people who will be living in hell. He depicts hell as the "grey town" where everyone living there does nothing but quarrel with his neighbor. It is so bad that all the citizens of "grey town" keep moving farther and farther away from each other so that the city itself goes on for millions of miles with nothing but lonely and vacant streets in between them. Some of the reasons why people quarrel and distance themselves in the "grey town" are because:
- No one ever felt "recognized" or "appreciated" by others.
- People always felt badly treated in all their relationships so they figured they were better off living separated lives.
- People always viewed themselves as unlucky and were jealous of the luck the undeserved seem to always have.
- They perceived their neighbors as being boorish, idiotic or unintelligent.
So the result is that people isolated, moved away and grew apart. Sound familiar? But if you look closely at these descriptions that C. S. Lewis uses, each one is the direct fall-out from unspoken expectations not being met. We expect people to recognize and appreciate us. We expect people to treat us good. We expect to get lucky. We expect people to be interesting, smart and intelligent. And when these expectations are not met, like a child who didn't get what they wanted for Christmas, we pout.
So, how are you going to prepare yourself for this coming new year: With hope or expectation?
Here is my wish (I was going to use the word hope, but I am not sure I can bank on it): That instead of waiting for everyone to meet your needs, why don't you serve and love others first? Stop expecting and start loving. If you do that, here is my guarantee: You will be too busy enjoying others that you will start to forget about yourself and all your expectations will disappear as a mist does at mid-day.
And when that happens, you might even begin to smile again?