By WALTER ALBRITTON
In the midst of winter, harsh weather may require a cozy fire with burning logs that calms our souls in places medicine cannot go. Faith that “this too shall pass” may be nurtured in that calmness, faith that fathers the anticipation that winter’s bleakness will inevitably give way to the glory of springtime.
While anticipation is a precious gift of God, it is your responsibility to cultivate it and keep it positive. Fail to do that and it becomes a negative influence in your life. You have suffered in the past and you know there is more suffering just ahead. So, if that’s all you factor in, you can anticipate a miserable future by focusing on your problems. But add Jesus to the mix and anticipation becomes a blessing. Call it sanctified anticipation.
Jesus reminds you that life will have its problems. But he also invites you to trust him for the strength to handle tribulation. So when you add faith in the goodness of God to anticipation, you can expect God’s help when trouble comes. Because He is Immanuel, He will be “with you” in life’s valleys. Believing that saves you from “dreading the future.” Perhaps that’s why Isaiah said, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” So, you strengthen your faith by believing that God’s “new thing” will be providing all the grace you need for whatever trouble you will face.
Anticipation with a positive twist is worthy of being celebrated. When you thank God for his blessings, include the gift of sanctified anticipation. Consider its value in all of life’s adventures.
Family relationships are broken. Feelings have been hurt. Something you said was misunderstood. But you know that broken relationships can be restored. Though it is not easy to ask for forgiveness, you know that life is impossible without a forgiving spirit. So, you decide to apologize with the expectancy of reconciliation. And you get busy practicing the kind of love Paul described in 1 Corinthians 13 — “Love is patient, love is kind ….” Peace comes within because you know His help is on the way to make “family” what it’s meant to be!
You are weary of being broke, but you reassess your needs against your wants in light of the words of Jesus, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” You think of reasonable ways to increase your income. Then you determine that with discipline and sacrifice, and the Lord’s help, you can break the shackles of financial bondage. You don’t have any extra money at the end of the week, but you are confident that God is going to provide what you need.
Relationships at work are difficult. Your colleagues don’t give you the respect you deserve. But you decide to apply the Golden Rule — offering to others what you would like for them to offer you. You treat wounds with kindness instead of indifference. And you are confident that in time your relationships will improve. Expectancy births hope!
There are days when everything you do seems wrong. You feel out of sync with life. But you refuse to give up on yourself or others. You look in the mirror and remind yourself that you are a baptized child of God; you have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Jesus loves you and is eager to help you “get it right.” You examine yourself, forgive yourself and begin doing the right thing one day at a time. You are confident that your expectancy of a better day will be rewarded.
When “winter” is doing its worst, you reach down for a fresh supply of expectation and nurture what you receive. As you cultivate hope, it grows. Eventually it becomes so strong that your sanctified anticipation gives you confidence that the best days are just ahead.
The sweetness of marriage can turn bitter overnight. You are thoughtless. You say stupid things that interrupt the flow of affection. In such hours you feel imprisoned by our own foolishness. You remember days when love overflowed and life was heavenly. You long to find your way back to the tender affection you once enjoyed.
This is where anticipation plays such a great role. You must not lose the expectation that your brokenness can be healed. Common sense helps you say, “I was wrong,” and “Please forgive me.” Then, the torment of soul can end, and perhaps with tears, a stronger bond can emerge. And believe me, when that happens, it will feel like springtime. I know. I have been there and I remember those moments with joy.
If you feel your supply of anticipation has run low, take the time to be thankful for what you do have. Nourish it. Celebrate it. Cultivate it. Be patient. Winter never lasts forever. Spring is on its way, and the expectation of it will bring gladness to your heart.