So now we must cling tightly to the hope that lives within us, knowing that God always keeps his promises!” (Heb. 10:23 TPT)
What are the differences between anxiety, expectations and anticipation?
Anxiety: concern or solicitude respecting some event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasiness. It expresses more than uneasiness or disturbance, and even more than trouble or solicitude. it usually springs from fear or serious apprehension of evil, and involves a suspense respecting an event, and often, a perplexity of mind, to know how to shape our conduct. (Noah Webster’s Dictionary of 1828)
The bible tells us that we will experience anxiety but we are not to let it rule us.
Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:6-8)
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. (Psalm 94:19)
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me; And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23)
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad. (Proverbs 12:25)
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)
When we feel anxious, it is the ploy of the enemy to lure us away from trusting that God will fulfill His promises. If we hold on to those anxious thoughts, we are giving more credit to the lies of the devil than the truth of God.
Expectation and anticipation are often used interchangeable. But there is a subtle difference, and that difference can have a huge outcome.
Expectation: To look for; to have a previous apprehension of something future, whether good or evil; to entertain at least a slight belief that an event will happen. We expect a visit that has been promised. We expect money will be paid at the time it is due, though we are often disappointed. (Noah Webster’s Dictionary of 1828)
Expectations are very specific, whether good or bad. Think about the expectations you’ve had in your life. Have you ever been disappointed because what you were expecting didn’t happen? Or has something happened that you weren’t expecting? The bible references both.
“When I expected good, then evil came; When I waited for light, then darkness came. (Job 3:26)
He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it and also hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones. (Isa. 5:2)
the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, (Mat. 24:50)
You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” (Luke 12:46)
And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. (Acts 3:5)
Not all expectations are bad, but are our expectations based more on what we want, what we wish for, than what God may have planned for us? When we have expectations, we may believe the promises given but think we can determine how it’s going to happen. This can limit what we receive from God because we are so focused on the specifics we are wanting that we can miss the bigger plans God has instore for us.
Anticipation: 1. Foretaste; previous view or impression of what is to happen afterward; as, the anticipation of the joys of heaven. The happy anticipation of a renewed existence in company with the spirits of the just. 2. Previous notion; preconceived opinion, produced in the mind, before the truth is known; slight previous impression. (Noah Webster’s Dictionary of 1828)
Notice how the first part of the definition references the joys of heaven, a renewed existence. Most bible verses that use anticipate fit into that.
[ New Heavens and a New Earth ] “Pay close attention now: I’m creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating: I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy, create my people as pure delight. I’ll take joy in Jerusalem, take delight in my people: No more sounds of weeping in the city, no cries of anguish; No more babies dying in the cradle, or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime; One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal— anything less will seem like a cheat. They’ll build houses and move in. They’ll plant fields and eat what they grow. No more building a house that some outsider takes over, No more planting fields that some enemy confiscates, For my people will be as long-lived as trees, my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work. They won’t work and have nothing come of it, they won’t have children snatched out from under them. For they themselves are plantings blessed by God, with their children and grandchildren likewise God-blessed. Before they call out, I’ll answer. Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard. Wolf and lamb will graze the same meadow, lion and ox eat straw from the same trough, but snakes—they’ll get a diet of dirt! Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill anywhere on my Holy Mountain,” says God. (Isaiah 65:17-25 Message)
While Simeon was prophesying over Mary and Joseph and the baby, Anna walked up to them and burst forth with a great chorus of praise to God for the child. And from that day forward she told everyone in Jerusalem who was waiting for their redemption that the anticipated Messiah had come! (Luke 2:38)
Be like the servants who anticipate their master’s return from a wedding celebration. They are ready to unlock and open the door for him at a moment’s notice. (Luke 12:36)
Is it not obvious to you that persons who put their trust in Christ (not persons who put their trust in the law!) are like Abraham: children of faith? It was all laid out beforehand in Scripture that God would set things right with non-Jews by faith. Scripture anticipated this in the promise to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed in you.” (Galatians 3:7-8)
while we anticipate and help to speed up the coming of the day of God, when the atmosphere will be set on fire and the heavenly bodies consumed in a blaze. (2 Peter 3:12)
God gave His promises for Jesus throughout the bible and those that anticipated His coming were not disappointed. Those that had their own expectations put Him to death.
The second part of the definition of anticipation references a “preconceived opinion, produced in the mind, before the truth is known”. We receive a personal promise from God, He shows us specifically what is to come.
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth; . . . and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13)
When we anticipate the promise instead of worrying about how it will happen or expecting it in a specific way we eagerly await its fulfillment.
As we’ve seen all three, anxiety, expectation, and anticipation reference a belief in a future event.
- Anxiety – we worry about something that we have no control over and normally doesn’t happen. It can affect us spiritually, mentally, and physically in a negative way. There is absolutely no trust in God or His promises.
- Expectation – is waiting for a predicted outcome. God will give us pictures of His promises; however, our own expectation can limit what we can receive as part of God’s plan. Even if God fulfills His promise we may not recognize it because it didn’t happen the way we wanted.
- Anticipation – to anticipate something is to get ready and wait eagerly for it, or to do something in advance; this isn’t the same as expect. If you expect changes, you think they’ll be coming soon; if you anticipate changes, you’re preparing to deal with them.
When God give you a promise Satan, the father of lies, will come at us with a thousand negative probabilities, but we always need to remember that a probability has no power. It only becomes powerful when we believe the lie and collapse the probability into an actuality.
When you feel anxious take it as a warning that a lie is trying to overpower God’s truth. As 2 Cor. 10:5 tells us we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
When you have an expectation think about what it is you are expecting. Are you trying to control the outcome instead of trusting that God will fulfill His promises? Numbers 23:19 tells us the God is not a man, that He should lie.
When you are filled with anticipation you believe in the promise God has given you, you trust Him in how it will come into fruition, and you prepare to receive it.
God has many promises that he has for us, may we choose to accept, believe and live on those promises.