This morning in church our associate pastor preached a sermon about expectation. In this season of Advent, this concept is not unusual. We should feel a sense of expectation as we look to the birth of Christ just as the Jewish people felt expectation as they awaited the Messiah.
But our pastor took it a step further. He asked if we feel that same expectation any time we pray. When we are waiting for God to move on our behalf, are we excited to see what He will do?
This message hit me hard during this season of waiting to adopt. We have been praying for God to send us the child He has for our family. We’ve been waiting as patiently as we know how. We are trying to trust in His perfect timing. But that sense of expectation? I’m not sure I have that anymore.
I realized this morning that I have purposely blocked the expectation from my heart. I pray, but deep down inside I have built a wall between my prayer and the hope of its fulfillment. It all comes down to a fear of disappointment, especially in matters that mean a great deal to me.
I find it easier to assume I’ll be disappointed. Then, when it happens, I’m not devastated. If, by some miracle, my prayer is answered the way I want, it’s a happy surprise.
It’s not that I don’t believe God can answer my prayers. I fully believe in His ability, but sometimes I doubt His willingness. I pray for a baby, but I always add that if it’s not God’s will for me to have a baby, I want Him to change my heart and help me accept that.
I’m not wrong to pray for God’s will in my life, but I certainly don’t have a heart of expectation.
Why does it matter?
Our pastor pointed out that if we don’t have a heart of expectation, we miss out on all the little ways God is answering our prayers every day. At the beginning of the New Testament the Jewish people were waiting for the Messiah, but God had been silent for 400 years (the time between the book of Micah and the Gospels). I’m sure after 400 years the expectation had waned.
When John was born, fulfilling the prophecy as the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah, not very many people got it. Maybe they had prayed for so long with no answer that their hearts had turned cynical. “Sure, God’s going to send us a Savior. I’ve heard that one before. I’ll believe it when I see it.”
If I’m not careful, I get a little cynical too. “Sure, we’re going to adopt a baby. I’ll believe it when I have a baby in my arms and the paperwork is done.”
It’s a protective instinct.
When I get cynical, however, I miss all the ways God is trying to talk to me every day. He wants me to walk with Him so He can comfort me through my disappointments and guide me along the path He has laid out for my family.
When I expect Him to do great things, I see how all the little thing add up to something amazing.
If you are waiting right now and you find your heart leaning toward cynicism and bitterness, I encourage you to use this season of Advent to get your expectation back. Ask God to soften your heart so you can break down the walls around your prayers. Ask Him for renewed hope.
I’m still praying for a baby, but now I believe in praying boldly. I’m praying that God will bring us a baby in a way that is so miraculous—so beyond anything we could have planned or dreamed—that it could only be Him.
I’m expecting beautiful things and a beautiful testimony to go along with it. I hope you are expecting the same.