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Expectation v. Expectancy

Posted on: March 17th, 2015 by Laurie Coombs 7 Comments

ExpectancyThere’s a vast difference between expectation and expectancy. These two mindsets can be applied to just about any part of our lives. They can be applied to our life-long dreams, our marriages, our children, our friendships, our careers, our ministries. And they can also be applied to our relationship with God.

Expectation expects things. It expects a certain outcome. Or that the outcome will be derived a certain way.

Expectancy does not expect things. Expectancy hopes. It has faith that good will come but releases the expectation of what or how it will come about.

Expectations lead to disappointments and frustration and disillusion.

Expectancy leads to faith and joy and thankfulness.

I recently had the privilege to attend a weekend “Encounter.” The entire purpose of the weekend was to meet with God. To encounter the One and Only. I had heard stories of others going to their Encounter, coming home saying things like, “It changed my life.” And “I’m a completely different person.” And “I’m a changed man.” And more.

I thought I was open to whatever God had for me that weekend, but I soon learned that I had gone up to that mountain with a whole lot of expectations. My heart felt cold going up there, and all I wanted was for God to break through. But as the weekend wore on, I became increasingly discontent. God was speaking to me. He was moving. But He wasn’t doing what I wanted Him to, and so I was a bit annoyed. (This is where I chime in to tell you just how embarrassing it is to admit that!)

I kept praying, “Lord, why aren’t you fixing my heart?”

And then He spoke. “Fix your attitude,” I felt Him say to my spirit. And with those three little words, I realized that I didn’t need to wait on God to fix me. I needed to let go of all my expectations and realign my thinking with God’s.

You see, I had gone with expectations. I tried not to, but I did. I saw my need for God to fix something, and I was sure He’d do it. But when He didn’t do it the way I thought He would, my attitude grew increasingly ugly. The problem was not with God, but with me. I am happy to tell you that God’s little rebuke was the very thing I needed to soften my heart. God did fix my heart, but before He did so, He allowed me to see my expectations for what they were. He allowed me to see that my expectations were the very thing keeping me from the one thing I needed. It wasn’t until I let them go, it wasn’t until God had humbled me, that I was able to receive all the goodness God had planned for me that weekend.

Expectation says, “God, I expect you will do X.”

It says, “God, I expect you do X in a certain way.”

Expectancy says, “Lord, I don’t know how or what you will do, but I know you will do something, and I know it will be good.” God always does something good. He is continually working in and through our lives. We can eagerly wait with expectancy for what He will do, but we cannot place self-centered expectations on Him. He is God. We are not.

Any thoughts? Share in the comments

  • Marisol Companioni

    My question on expectations vs. Expectency what should be my attitude when my expectations are on His promises…what should my faith look like be like? Open to just in case it don’t happen than how is that Faith

  • Apollo Gomes

    More often than not it is the limits that we set before the Lord that constricts His parameters. It confines the Living God to operate within those confines ! Once we pull them off and allow Him to do it His way that He is magnified in our lives ! A case in point is when His spirit had fallen on Elijah at Mt Carmel there were no limit , whereby He provoked the Baal worshippers to not only to dampen the offering but to set Him major Challenges by soddening it – just that it is clearly manifest that Only He is the greatest ! Wasn’t He able ? In our day too we tend to rationalise the extent He can operate. HE simply loves to exhibit His power and this day He is already operating inside us to His Glory plain ornery folks who can almost anything(greater ??,) than what He’s already done like producing millions or billions which is the only challenge that the cold hearted world today recognizes ! The world had taken notice of this in Abraham’s and his children’s time so why not today in this materialistic sphere !? HE spoke these encouragement through our Js when He rebuked them several times just around His crucifixion as He wanted this

  • Mark Allman

    I do believe unmet expectations erodes any type of relationship. I do believe that some expectations are right to have in relationships but they need to be understood by both parties and agreed upon. My employer has certain expectations from me and I expect my employer to do certain things in return. I know my close relationships run into hardships because unmet unknown expectations exist. Over time with relationships our expectations if understood and fulfilled we grow to where they become more of an expectancy. Our trust grows to where we may not have everything spelled out but we believe in the other to a point where they don’t need to be.

    With God it is easy to build up expectations in our mind and let disappointment reign when things don’t go the way we believe they should. We need to move towards more trust and away from spelled out expectations in our head and heart.

    I know I need to grow more into the idea that I don’t have to understand why in order to trust, and I don’t have to have my way in order to feel blessed and I don’t have to be in control to be at peace as long as I do that which I should in relation to God and trust Him to put the puzzle together that I may never see till heaven.

    • Thank you for this addition, Mark! Wonderful insights!

    • Jef Cotham

      Good points, Mark. In my post, I should have specified “unrealistic” expectations. Expecting someone to call you, for example, when she’s made a long trip and let you know she’s safe is a reasonable expectation and any courteous person should do so without prompting. On the other hand, expecting to know a person’s every movement is unhealthy for both parties.

      Trust can be difficult because people have both the propensity for selfless benevolence and unspeakable evil. Fortunately, when we trust God and let His love transform us, our hearts become fearless and our spirits indomitable. His Hand moves us through this life and beyond.

  • Jef Cotham

    This is a wonderfully insight article. Relationship experts often tell people that expectations kill relationships, but that stops short of the complete truth. As you implied, expectations kill our joy.

    Assimilating the knowledge that I can control only my own attitude was perhaps the hardest thing I ever did, even harder than forgiving the murderer of my beloved uncle or the “best friend” who cheated with my erstwhile wife. Eventually, through Christ we can realize that forgiveness is healing and that hate is self-destructive. So, we can heal and let go. But, for some of us accepting our
    limitations is more difficult even when we believe God is in control because we don’t like to subjugate our egos and we’re tempted to believe our intentions justify our means. Ironically, the
    greatest Man ever understood humility better than anyone and we thankfully we can look to Him.

    There is often a fine line between control and influence as well as enablement and encouragement; unfortunately, few people acquire the ability of effective discernment without the rigors of experience. But, we must do for ourselves before we can do for others so we have to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and accept our limitations and let go while refusing to look back. At that point, the peace that passes all understanding is ours and Grace that we can never
    earn but learn to humbly accept becomes our eternal treasure. Perspective is a wonderful gift.

    And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. – Matthew 10:30

    Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests,but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” – Matthew 8:20

    • Thank you for sharing your example of forgiveness, Jef! Perspective is absolutely a gift.