Expectation is one of life's happiest joys. We 'can't wait' for the day off, a good night's sleep, a cherished friend to visit, a well-earned vacation, supper. Who doesn't love to hear the satisfied sigh: “Finally!”?
Expectations depend on reliability: no one dare get hopes up if the odds are too slim. Sadly, some expectations are little more than wishful thinking, fodder for broken dreams.
Winter in Alaska is full of expectation. Folks from elsewhere can't fathom how we endure the endless white landscape, the thermometer stuck below zero, sun dials with precious little to 'dial'. But we do endure, and one secret is expectation.
We know, we hope – sometimes we wonder. But deep in the soul a weak sun glimmers, hope gives a wan smile, and we know again winter won't last forever. Light will soon come and overstay its welcome, and the magical Alaskan summer will make us forget winter ever was.
Expectation goes with the life of faith as well. Those who believe expect their faith will become sight. Our faith is grounded in One we have dared to trust and found to be trustworthy. As the Psalmist has it, “Those who know what He is like will trust in Him.” (Ps. 9:10) We should think well enough of God to believe He keeps His word. This allows expectation, the result of confidence in one we have found reliable.
When loved ones die with confidence in God, we hope to meet them again, believing God is able and will keep His word. This expectation offers light and joy in dark days. When loved ones – or we ourselves – slip on the journey we find our Lord meets us there. We learn to hope in His faithful love, expressed over and over, nurturing confident expectation that “underneath are the everlasting arms”, “he will not leave or forsake us”, “He is working both to will and to do of His good pleasure”, “joy comes in the morning.”
And finally, Jesus promised all will be made new and those who rely on Him will live forever. The skeptic finds this an outlandish claim: “Show me!” Believers may reply: “Our faith is the reality of what we can't 'show you', evidence of what we cannot now see. But come and discover for yourself – you may find to your great surprise there is something worth believing, something beyond this life reasonably to hope for.”
No believer suggests we know with certainty. Faith is a different kind of knowing, trusting the claims of one we cannot see, giving the Eternal God the ultimate care of our eternal well-being. Who else would we trust for such things? And so, because we trust a faithful Christ, we live with joyous expectation.
What are you expecting this year? Look to Christ, trust His good way, receive His grace to walk steadily on. “He makes all things beautiful in His time.”