Category Archives: advent

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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Advent: What are we waiting for?

You will often encounter the theme of waiting during Advent. There is a particular emphasis on the waiting for the coming of Jesus – both in the Christmas story as well as into our lives now. We ask: what are the things we are waiting on God for? That’s a good thing to consider. However, I feel like there is something we can easily miss in this seemingly helpful theme. What if we are waiting for the wrong thing?

Think about Jesus’ birth. This was an event that just about everyone missed at the time because they were waiting for something else! Admittedly, God was a little mysterious/ambiguous about the coming of the Messiah – something we forget after the fact because it all makes sense in light of history. But the people of Jesus’ day – they weren’t waiting for a baby to be born in a barn to save the nation. In other words, they were were waiting for the wrong thing. God had given promises and they lost track, confused, and ministerpreted them.

And us? What are you waiting for? What am I waiting for? What if we are waiting for the wrong things too? In a conversation with friends earlier this year, we discussed how often we are asking and expecting very specific things from God. We must ask ourselves often (or better yet, have others ask us) – is THAT what God promised? My experience is that over time we take what God has said, picture it a certain way, and then become fixated on our finite picture of what God has said. We wait for OUR best understanding of what God will do and we stop waiting for God.

Can we as fragile, control-seeking humans just wait on God for however God wants to come? Can we hold our hopes and expectations (prayer requests) loosely enough for God to come through the way He knows is best? And how do we not miss this in our waiting? God so often comes in unexpected ways doesn’t He? I suppose this is where it helps to have others watching with us, reminding us of God’s words so we don’t get too attached to our own interpretations – and being open to re-interpreting as needed.

Maybe we just need to keep bringing to God the places in life that we need Him. These we do know! Invite Jesus to come and then see what He does. In a sense, let go entirely of an outcome or destination we think God wants (or we want?), and let God instead work with us where we are and take us to the place He has in mind. Maybe this is the best way to not miss His coming? Maybe this is the ONLY way to make sure we are waiting for the right thing – for God.

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