How Far Is Too Far?

…No, I’m not talking about that.

I’m talking about hope versus expectation.  How do you hope?

This might sound weird, but bear with me.  Let’s say you’re struggling with something — a lot.  You know Jesus has the ability to help you get through it (I mean, He’s God); but how do you pray for it? Do You try to believe that He will help in some general positive fashion that doesn’t allow for too much detail – you just believe it’ll be a good outcome (hope), or do you want a certain thing to happen – and when it doesn’t, you feel dejected (expectation)?

Can we expect anything from God? Is it bad to? Or should we just hope?

Because I gotta be honest with you guys – I want to do the right thing – but I find myself using language in my prayer that suggests that I expect way more than I hope.

For example:

How I pray:
“I prayed really hard for my friend, but her test results still came back positive for cancer.”

(I expect that because I prayed, God will act on that and heal my friend.  God, you can like hear the pride dripping off that prayer, lol.  Yikes!)

How I should probably pray:
“I pray for my friend, that God will heal her; and if He doesn’t, that He uses her illness for a good purpose and to draw her closer to Himself.”

(I hope that God will bring my friend to good health, but if He doesn’t, I can trust that He will work things out for good, because God is good.)

How I pray:
“I bought a lottery ticket, and I pray that I’ll win the lottery so I can finally get rid of all my soul-crushing debt.”

(I really crack myself up sometimes.)

How I should probably pray:
“I pray that God helps to provide the means I need to pay down my debt and to use my money wisely.”  (The lottery ticket doesn’t really matter so much here.)

(It sucks to admit this, by the way — I’m like super embarrassed — but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.)

Why do I do this? I’m afraid.  Hoping is far too vague for me — I like my dreams concrete, my visions clear-cut.  I’m afraid that if I truly let go and hope that God will work all things out for good, that I won’t be able to know when it’s coming.  I won’t be able to plan for it.

Which leads to the idea of Grace, which I still have so much trouble with.  I have issues with God taking care of me when I can’t, but…that’s a post for another day, haha.

So I guess I’m asking for advice, and prayers.  What are ways that have worked for you? How have you moved from expectation to hope?


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