Expectations vs. Hope

For a long time I struggled to understand the difference between expectation and hope. I held unrealistic expectations of myself and of others and was continually frustrated and disappointed; yet I longed to have hope that situations, circumstances, and people could change. A wise person once said, “An expectation is a premeditated resentment.” To me this means that when I set my hope on the best (or worst) scenario I can imagine, I am setting myself up for disappointment.

At no other time on the calendar than the Christmas holidays is this truth brought home to me. Bombarded by our culture with images of “chestnuts roasting on an open fire”, smiling carolers, and all being “merry and bright”, we struggle to keep up with the pressure of shopping, decorating, and preparing for the “perfect” holiday. The question, “Are you ready for Christmas?” has come to mean more about finishing a list than preparing our hearts.

Expectations of ourselves and others can leave us frustrated, disappointed, and downright angry. Family togetherness can bring dysfunctional dynamics to crisis level for those who are trying to keep an image of perfection on the outside while they are barely making it on the inside.

What I have learned from years of holding unrealistic and unmet expectations is not simply to lower the bar, but to keep my focus on myself and what I can change—my own actions, reactions, and responses. Then I am free to place my hope in the One who does not disappoint. And here is the difference: my expectations consist of the outcomes or scenarios my finite mind can imagine; my hope is in the Lord who “is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us….” (Eph. 3:20 )

This season, may we trade our expectations for His hope—for our good and for His glory.
Posted by LeAnn Tyer at 1:30 PM

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