hope vs expectation: an Advent reflection

Been thinking about the difference between hope and expectation, at least for me. And now with it being Advent (the time leading up to Christmas), there’s the annual reminders of hope and anticipation and preparedness for Jesus coming/what God wants to do in our lives.

hope: the longing for something that is to come

expectation: the anticipation of specific realisations of what we hope for

Hopes, I think, are generally fine and may be from God at times. Expectations, on the other hand, feel like they can actually get in the way of what we are hoping for! It seems to me that people (I) struggle when we confuse the two.

It’s normal – we are finite and human and need concrete things to grab onto. So we may have a hope for a “home of our own” but get fixated on a particular way this will look or come about. And I (probably no one else does this?) then mess everything up trying to get it. God says one thing, I hear it and slowly build my own interpretation of what God has said, and then I too often focus on this instead of what God actually said. I am learning/struggling to not force things to become how I expect them to look, but rather to let hope come about the way God wants.

And Advent – is it about hope or expectation? I see that so often people miss what God is wanting to do, how God is wanting to do it, because they have such specific expectations (a Messiah, for example) that they miss what they are hoping for (salvation) because God does it another way. At the same time, we can’t just hope for peace and love as concepts – they need flesh for us to really grasp and experience them – which is part of the beauty of Jesus, isn’t it?

Hold firmly to hope. Often it is all that keeps us going through hard or dark times. And try to hold loosely to your expectations (can you see which are YOUR expectations separate from what God has said?), or at least loose enough to adjust to what God brings.

Come Lord Jesus. We hope for you. And we look for you in whichever ways you fulfill your promises…


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