By Kathi Pelton
Did you know that in many instances in the Bible the word, “hope” can be translated to mean joyful expectation? To lose hope is to lose faith because as Hebrews 11:1 says,
Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.
It is not only good but it is essential to our souls to have joyful expectation for our life here and now. God has given each of us dreams, desires and hopes that bring us great joy as we expect their fulfillment. Someone that is very close to me has been facing a decade of infertility and I stand in continuous joyful expectation that she and her husband will conceive a child. Together we dream about this little promise, we have talked about it, bought items to prepare for it, she and her husband have picked out names—plans have been made in joyful expectation. This does not mean that there are not many tears, frustrations, disappointments and even the desire to stop hoping. But the hope continues, and this hope produces joyful expectation even amid deep heartache for them. I, too, faced years of infertility so I know the rollercoaster of joyful expectation only to be met by painful disappointments. The day that I held our adopted eleven-month-old daughter in my arms for the first time, I experienced a complete release from all the sorrows that came from the years of “hope deferred.” Then less than a year later I held my infant son who I gave birth to.
We are not guaranteed that every hope that we have will be fulfilled on this side of heaven but we do have a guarantee that the hope in our eternal promise will be fulfilled. Whether or not we see every fulfillment of hopes and dreams come to pass it is still essential to live in the place of joyful expectation. It is life to our souls and health to our hearts. The dreams that children have of becoming an astronaut or fireman nurture imagination and joyful expectation. Though they may never actually ride in a rocket ship this joyful childhood dream is necessary for their growth and for nurturing their hope in the unseen. We were created to dream big in joyful expectation. If we could retain this childlike posture, it would truly break off the posturing of settling for something less than God’s best for us.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
Often, we stop believing in the “more than we can ask or imagine.” Yet, children are proof that we are to dream of things that are bigger than what we have been able to imagine. I have rarely met a young child with small dreams—they have not been subject to all the things that we learn that cause us to limit our dreams by carnal knowledge.
Common sense can be a great enemy of dreams, but the wisdom of God causes us to enter a joyful expectation of seeing “Him who is able” to do more than we can ask or imagine. I truly believe that the quenching of joyful expectation through common sense or man’s wisdom is more dangerous to the human soul than most any other thing.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11
Shouldn’t we dream of flying rockets or bringing healing to the sick? Shouldn’t we renew the areas of joyful expectation that have been diluted by the wisdom of men? Yes!
When my husband and I began the journey to adopt our oldest daughter, we were young and so full of joyful expectation that we said yes to a journey that was presented to us as “impossible in the eyes of men.” The chances of us adopting this baby girl was truly impossible in the natural realm—judges told us that we did not have a prayer, social workers told us that there was no way for us to become her parents, even Christians looked at us as if we were a desperate young couple that was immature and foolish in our faith and hope. Yet, I had heard my Father’s voice that said, “Trust me and go forth in faith.” Numerous times along the path we hit walls that confirmed the natural impossibility that we were facing, but the Father continued to say, “Only believe.” Nine months later, by unheard of miracles and out of the faith of joyful expectation, we held her in our arms and took her home as our daughter.
I often wonder if God asked me today (thirty years later) the same thing, if I would be as quick to give my yes? Have I “matured” to the point that I’ve lost the joyful expectation that would venture on such an impossible journey with the hope of God fulfilling what he spoke to my heart? Have I matured in the ways of the world or in human understanding or what we call “common sense?” May it never be so!
It is time for us to return to the God “who is able to do above and beyond all that we can ask or imagine” and enter the childlike joyful expectation that we had when we first began walking with him.
“And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[a] considered him faithful who had made the promise.” Hebrews 11:11
“Father, today I ask you to restore the childlike faith and joyful expectation to me. I declare that every place in my heart and soul that has become diluted by common sense or the wisdom of men would now receive a full restoration of hope and joy. I proclaim today that you are the God who is able to do more than I can ask or imagine! I will not settle for less than the miraculous. I will no longer limit my dreams because those limitations have diluted my joy and expectation of doing the greater things.
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