The past few weeks, I’ve been hearing the word expect a lot. Not sure if this is purposeful or if it’s just the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon… “Expect God to move”, “Are you expecting an answer from Him”, and so on. I didn’t think much of this word that now has a new meaning to me. I thought, ‘okay God, I expect You to hear my prayer’ or, ‘God, I’m expecting Your presence at church today’. But I didn’t need this new word to make me believe these things. I already knew God would hear my prayers and I already knew His presence was always in the church. So why is it different now?
Previously this week, I stumbled upon the book of James. Some key words that stood out to me when I read it before (I only know this because I underlined in different colors, meaning I’ve read it a few times) were ‘pure joy’, ‘faith’, ‘perseverance’, ‘believe’, ‘complete’, ‘unstable’, ‘humble’, and ‘promise’. This is just from James 1:1-18! When reading it again this week, I strongly noticed the words faith, believe, expect, and unstable. Do you see any commonalities in them? Let’s take a moment to appreciate the Holy Spirit and how He changes our minds to read God’s Word in a new light, it’s personable and it’s alive!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
– James 1:2-3
The four words faith, believe, expect, and unstable strike me because I believe God has revealed to me a fatal flaw: my lack of trust or faith in Him. The past couple months have tried and tested me–I have been on and off with worrisome and fearful thoughts. Some examples are when I got Norovirus and I was afraid to eat any real food for multiple weeks, spent Thanksgiving Break alone, new-semester-nerves because of the change of routine, a weekend conference full of late nights and early mornings (not in my typical routine!), and even more day-to-day heart-racing thoughts with sleepless nights.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
– James 1:4-8
I have been feeding these thoughts that continue to rip apart my mind, body, and spirit. I would pray to God to take it away, Jesus replace these deadly words with Your life-giving truths, please! I’ve come to realize that I am just begging. I am crying out to the Lord, falling to His feet, begging for the suffering to stop. This is not the issue– the issue is I wasn’t expecting Him to save me. I was expecting to be stuck here, trapped in the lies and the hurt, assuming it would just eventually end on its own. I didn’t give Him the time to answer my prayers. I didn’t wait for Him in expectance. Read that again!
The word unstable clashes with expectance like oil and water. We cannot be both– the two are completely separable, they will never mix. We can’t expect God to move if we are wavering in our faith. The belief isn’t whole-hearted if we aren’t grounded in our faith. Stability comes from trusting Him and letting Him take control. (But we can expect Him to move while we wait– waiting is different from giving up!)
So, my friend, what do you expect of the great I Am? When all hope is lost, do you trust that He is with you? Do you believe the Spirit will comfort you in any and every circumstance?
Don’t fret; have faith! Jesus leaves the 99 for you, He hears your prayers and He mends your heart. He graciously forgives again and again and He is made strong when you are weak. Let’s learn to rely on this free gift of love, faith, strength, hope, freedom, comfort, peace, trust, patience, grace, mercy, forgiveness, security, triumph, joy, refinement, and life.
Wait expectantly for Him.