Rejoice in the Lord Always. Phil 4:4
What would you identify as the enemy of joy? Trials? Suffering? Would you consider expectations? Whether expressed or unspoken, we have expectations of what work, church, marriage, parenting, and friendship involve. For example, we may expect churches to be friendly, work to be fulfilling, friends to be loyal, and children to heed our wise advice. If we become angry or disappointed when the hoped-for outcomes do not result, perhaps our emotions reveal we had expected something else.
Are expectations wrong? No, but if we hold too closely to any expectation other than what God promises in Scripture, we are bound to be disappointed. In the Bible, the word expect was most commonly used when stating that the Lord will return at a time we do NOT expect. Yes, we can certainly expect/anticipate His return, yet not know when.
Paul tells us that he learned to be content in every situation whether in plenty or in hunger, when facing abundance or need. Even in prison, Paul rejoiced because he realized the gospel was advancing. Interestingly, Paul also used the word “expectation,” but his expectation sounds nothing like mine. He wrote in Philippians 1:20, “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life of death.”
Paul challenges my shallow expectations for things to turn out my way. Whether or not we like the outcome, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can expect to have courage so that Christ will be honored in our bodies, knowing the Lord is advancing His gospel in the midst of suffering. Best of all, we can eagerly expect Jesus to return and take us to our forever home!