Trust and expectation are not separate entities. In order to expect something you must trust that your expectation will be met. You cannot have partial trust in your expectation and expect that your expectation will be fully met. Likewise, you cannot expect something from God, and then trust God part-time to fulfill your expectation. Like a part-time job, you will receive part-time pay. And when your expectation is not fully met you cannot be upset. You do not receive full-time pay for a part-time job. Because at some point you did not trust God or expect God to fulfill your expectation. We have to learn to look beyond our doubts and see our promise. An African proverb states, “It is better to have one bird in your hand than a million in a bush.” In the same manner, we cannot bound time to a God who is not bounded by time. We cannot expect God to answer in our time if our time does not correspond to God’s time.
Why is trust so difficult? Because it takes everything out of you–your heart, soul, mind, and body. Trust and expectation is not just spiritual, but physical, mental, and emotional. Trust forces you to put your body in unity with the belief that your expectation will be met. We can fill ourselves with doubt and began to strain different parts of our self because we are not in unity.
A biblical perspective: Moses, Aaron, God and the rocks.
In Exodus 17:1-7 we read about the Israelites under the leadership of Moses and Aaron as they travel to the land promised to them by God. In these verses of the bible we see the Israelites are thirsty for water and angry with Moses for their current conditions (vs 1 and 2).
Here, we are presented with one of the expectations of the Israelites that Moses should provide them with water since he was the one who brought them out of Egypt and into an unknown land. The Israelites argued that they would rather die in Egypt than the desert.
What was Moses’s first response – vs 3 “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”
The Israelites knew that God promised to take them to the promise land where they and their future children and generations will prosper. God used Moses and Aaron to lead them there. The Israelites expectation was that God would take them to their promise land, no issues. However, we have to remember that God never said that the journey would be easy but reassures us and them that He is a covenant-keeping God. Yet, we have a tendency to begin to doubt and start to lose trust that (in this case the promise – Israel) the promise that we are to expect may not happen – our expectation shifts.
What did Moses do next? He cried out to the Lord and the Lord heard him and answered his prayer (vs 4-7). God gave Moses instructions to strike a rock with his staff in order to produce water out of the rock to provide water for the people.
Vs 4 – “Then Moses cried out to the Lord…”
Vs 6 – “The Lord answered Moses … ‘…I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb…’”
Vs 7 – “And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’”
Why are these three verses important? Because when Moses was faced with adversity, he cried out to the Lord, the Lord heard him, and responded. The Lord did not leave Moses in the desert, in his journey, in his struggle. The Lord did not somehow forget the promise he made to Moses and the Israelites. The Lord did not abandon them. The Lord went before Moses. When Moses struck the rock, enough water flowed out of the rock to provide for all the Israelites. And that place became known as the place where they doubted God, or where their trust began to loosen (vs 7).
Another thing that we have to remember is that Moses had the expectation that once he struck the rock the way God had commanded him to, water would pour out of it. If Moses did not trust God, he would not have had that expectation, and maybe no water would have come out. If Moses trusted God part-time he would have went up to the rock thinking well this is going to work 50/50. But we see that Moses not only trusted God 100% but had the expectation that God would fulfill his promise and water would come out of the rock.
In times of adversity or of no adversity, in our prayers we should not only trust God to come through but trust in our expectation and His expectation that he will come through. We need to begin to FIRST seek after God like Moses did in these verses and trust and expect God to do what only He can do. Not only must we seek after God and have expectation and trust but we must also have obedience to what God tells us to do.
In Numbers 20:1-13 we see another situation where the Israelites are faced with thirst and become angry with Moses and Aaron. However, in this situation, Moses and Aaron did not fully honor God in his commands.
Vs 6 – “Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the Tent of the Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them.”
Vs 7 – “The Lord said to Moses,
Vs 8 – “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”
Vs 9 – “So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him.”
Vs 11 – “Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.”
Vs 12 – “But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
Why are these verses important? Because Moses and Aaron sought after the Lord in prayer for wisdom and provision and the Lord heard and answered their prayer. Moses and Aaron were initially obedient to what the Lord instructed them to do – provide water for the community. However, at the rock Moses and Aaron disobeyed God in their trust and did not speak to the rock as God commanded them to do but instead struck the rock twice. Water still poured out of the rock and the community drank.
So you may be wondering, so what, they disobeyed, but God still provided. We have to be careful to note that God said to Moses and Aaron “you did not trust me”, which is very important. God did not say disobey, but He could have. Moses and Aaron trusted God part-time and expected God to provide full-time. Yes, God provided for the community. But he also had a consequence for Moses and Aaron in addition. They would not enter the land that God had promised to the Israelites. Remember they did not honor God. It was not only in their hearts but also in front of people.
We need to remember that as Christians we must honor God in unity. That our behavior, our actions, our speech, and our thoughts are representative of God in our community and to ourselves. Not only in our community, but in our personal relationship to him. Too many times, we expect God to always come through for us, but we sometimes fail to come through for God. God is a loving and forgiving God, just as a father, yet, that does not mean that there are not consequences for our actions.
Did Moses and Aaron stop serving God because God disciplined them? Did they give up because things did not go the way they wanted it to? Did they give up on God because they could no longer enter the promise land? No, they did not. The Old Testament records both Moses and Aaron serving God until the day that they died. We cannot become upset and angry with God when things don’t go our way BECAUSE we went our own way in the midst of God’s way.
So why are trust and expectation so difficult? Because it takes everything within ourselves to fight every temptation to take a shortcut to the will of God especially when faced with adversity. We have to become one with God.
I encourage you to continue to pursue and seek after God for whatever your need is, trust and have the expectation that He will provide. Trust and expect yourself to wait on God for your needs – you will not be disappointed. When you begin to feel shaken, to doubt, to lose trust, to shift your expectation, go to God first, cry out to him, praise him in advance for his provision and do not lose hope. Satan has no hold on the promises of God and on your life. Every stronghold that is preventing you from obtaining your promise will be broken. God is a covenant keeping God and will go before you in every situation.