Joel Osteen — Waiting With Expectancy
I want to talk to you today about waiting with expectancy. In life we're always waiting for something: waiting for a dream to come to pass, waiting to meet the right person, waiting for a problem to turn around. Much of life is spent waiting. There's a right way to wait and a wrong way to wait.
Isaiah said, "They that wait upon the Lord will mount up with wings as eagles". We hear that word "Wait" and most of the time we think that means do nothing, be passive. But the amplified version explains what the word "Wait" really means. It says, "Those who expect, who hope, who look for God's goodness". Waiting is not supposed to be passive. True waiting is actively expecting. "I prayed. I believed. Now, I'm looking for God's goodness. I'm expecting my health to improve. I'm expecting new doors to open. I'm expecting to have a blessed year". That's what it really means to wait.
David understood this principle. He said in Psalm 5, "Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly". When you're waiting expectantly you know this could be the day you get the break you need. This could be the day the problem turns around. There's an anticipation in your spirit. You talk like it's going to happen. You act like it's going to happen. You're on the lookout. That expectancy is your faith being released.
All through the scripture we see this in David's life. He said, "Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me". He was expecting God's blessing. In Psalm 27, all kinds of bad things were happening to David. Violent enemies were chasing him. People lying about him, falsely accusing him. Yet right in the midst of it he said, "I am confident I will see God's goodness". David not only prayed, he not only believed, he took it one step further. He went out looking for God's favor.
Like David, you may be facing difficulties. In the natural it doesn't look good but when you're waiting with expectancy you're not moved by what you see. You're moved by what you know. Psalm 112 says, "When darkness overtakes the righteous, light will come bursting in". Notice God used the word "Bursting". He didn't say, "It's going to trickle in. It's going to barely get there. It's going to show up little by little". No, God said, "Suddenly, things will turn around".
You may have been dealing with a situation for many years but suddenly your health will improve. Suddenly the right person will show up. Suddenly the legal situation will resolve. The right way to wait is not, "Oh, God. This is never going to change. This financial difficulty is going to be the end of me. These kids are going to drive me crazy". No, get up every morning and say, "God, I'm expecting your light to come bursting in. I'm expecting a sudden breakthrough, a flood of your favor, a flood of healing, a flood of restoration, a flood of promotion". You wait with expectancy like that and you'll see God show up and do amazing things.
I know some of you have had tough times. Maybe you've had a bad break. Now you've settled where you are, thinking you've reached your limits. "This is as good as it's ever going to get". No, you've got to kick it into a new gear. Get your expectations up. Proverbs 13 says, "Trouble chases sinners but blessings chase the righteous".
You are the righteous. What should you be expecting? Trouble? Bad breaks? Heartache? No, get in agreement with God and start expecting his blessings to chase you down. Start expecting God's favor. When you go through a disappointment, and we all do, you have a bad break, instead of being discouraged, instead of complaining; no, dig your heels in and say, "This medical report may not look good but I'm not worried. I know healing is chasing me down". "Business may be slow. I'm not discouraged. I know opportunity, sales, contracts, ideas, inventions, good breaks are chasing me down". "My child may be on the wrong path but it's only temporary. I know a turnaround is chasing him down".
That's not just being positive. That's doing what David did; waiting with expectancy. You're saying, "God, I know you are still on the throne. You are bigger than this difficulty. What you promised in my life will come to pass". One reason people don't have the joy they should is they're not expecting anything good. The scripture says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick". If you're not expecting to see God's favor in a new way, if you're not expecting the problem to turn around, it will not only limit what God can do but it will cause your heart to be sick. It will cause you to be discouraged.
Too many people today are not healthy, not physically, but emotionally because they're not waiting with expectancy. At one point they had a big dream. They knew it was going to work out. But it didn't happen on their timetable. Now they've gotten passive. They think that it's never going to happen. But you've got to shake that off and get your fire back. God is still on the throne. It may not have happened on your timetable but God is a faithful God. He can still bring it to pass.
Now do your part and start expecting the light to come bursting in. Start expecting God's blessings to chase you down. Don't let people talk you out of it. Don't believe the never lies. They come to all of us. "You'll never get well. You'll never get married. You'll never get out of debt". Let that go in one ear and out the other. Our attitude should be, "I know my answer is already on the way. I could see it before I go to bed tonight. I could meet the person of my dreams before I leave this building". Be sure to look around before you leave. "I could see my health improve this week. I could get totally out of debt, pay my house off this year. It may be impossible in the natural but I know I serve a supernatural God".
When you wait with expectancy, the most powerful force in the universe goes to work. In the book of James it tells us to wait for God's promises like a farmer waits for his harvest. When a farmer plants his crops he doesn't wait all worried. He doesn't go to bed at night stressed out, wondering if they're going to come up. If somebody says to him, "I don't think you're going to get a harvest this year," he wouldn't pay any attention. He's planted. He's watered. He has no doubt that it's going to happen. So he waits with a confidence. Not just hoping. Not just believing. He takes it one step further. He knows his crops are going to come up.
That's the way we're supposed to wait on what God promised us. Like the farmer, you've prayed. You've planted. You've watered your seed. You've thanked God. Now you've got to come over into this confidence, a knowing that says, "Not if it happens but when it happens". If somebody asks you, "You still think you're going to get out of debt with the economy like it is"? Tell them, "I don't think so. I know so. My God is Jehovah Jireh. He is the Lord my provider. He is not affected by the economy. He controls it all". "Do you still think your child is going to straighten up? It looks like they're wilder than ever to me". "I don't think so. I know so. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord". "Do you still think you're going to get married? You've been single a long time". "I don't think so. I know so. God said he would give me the desires of my heart. The right man, the right woman; they are chasing me down even as we speak".
You've got to have this unshakable confidence. Just like you know the sun is going to come up in the morning you know what God promised you is going to come to pass. It may happen today. It may happen next week or next year. But like that farmer you know that you know your harvest is on its way.
This passage in James uses Job as the example of how to wait. You remember Job went through a lot of heartache and pain: lost his health, his family, his business. But about nine months later he came out with twice what he had before. He not only saw it all restored but he had twice the cattle, twice the sheep, twice the joy, twice the peace.
Of all the people in the scripture God could have chosen as the example of how to wait, God chose Job. I believe it's significant. God is saying, "When you go through a loss, a disappointment, a bad break, don't expect to come out the same. Expect to come out better off than you were before".
Maybe you're dealing with a sickness right now. Or a relationship didn't work out. Somebody cheated you in a business deal. You could easily be negative, discouraged, settle where you are. No, God wants to take what was meant for your harm and use it to your advantage, to increase you. Dare to believe like Job that you're going to come out with twice what you had before.
Some of you are just hoping to half-way recover. If you could at least get back to where you were before you got sick, before you were laid off, before the disappointment. You would be happy if you could just get back to even. But that's not the way our God works. God is going to make the enemy pay for bringing that trouble into your life. God is saying, "Get ready for double. You have not seen your best days. Weeping may endure for a night but joy is coming in the morning".
God is going to give you beauty for those ashes. He is going to make the rest of your life better than it would have been if that would have never happened. But you've got to do your part and start waiting with expectancy. If you're sitting around discouraged, in self-pity, thinking you've seen your best days, it will limit what God can do.
Shake it off and start waiting like Job, "Father, I want to thank you that double is coming my way. I may be sick right now but I'm expecting to come out twice as healthy, with twice the energy, twice the strength". "I may have gotten laid off, but Lord, I want to thank you for a Job with twice the benefits, twice the friends, twice the fulfillment, twice the income". "This person may have walked out on a relationship, done me wrong. But Lord, I just thank you for bringing me somebody twice as fun, twice as friendly, twice as good looking, twice as well off". Well, you say, "Joel, that's kind of far out". Yeah, we serve a far out God. He wants to do more than you can ask or think. He wants to bring you out like Job, with double.
What's interesting is when a farmer is waiting for his harvest he doesn't sit around passively and not do anything for months and months. No, while he's waiting he sharpens his tools. He makes sure his tractor and equipment is maintained and ready to go. He calls his suppliers, his transportation people, gets everything lined up. The fact is he hasn't seen one plant come up out of the ground. The whole field is completely empty yet he's making all kinds of preparations for the harvest that he knows is coming. He has such a confidence that he's putting actions behind his faith. That's what it means to wait like a farmer. You're not just hoping. You're not just praying. You're getting prepared, taking steps of faith.
Years ago, I went to this young couple's apartment, friends of mine. It was a very small place. And they were happy. They were content but they knew God had put bigger things in their heart. They had bought some furniture for the apartment that was much too big. One couch was crammed up against another couch. You could hardly walk into the room. It looked like a mistake. I thought to myself, "What in the world were they thinking"? I didn't say anything. But later the young lady said, "Joel, you'll have to forgive our den. We bought this furniture for our new house".
I didn't know they were moving. I said, "That's great. Where are you going"? She said, "We don't know yet. We just know we're not staying here. This is only temporary". They stayed in that tiny apartment for several years. When I would see them, just being friendly, I'd say, "Hey, when are you moving"? Their answer was always, "Soon". That's a great answer. "When are you coming out of debt"? "Soon". "When is the problem going to turn around"? "Soon". "When are you going to get married"? "Soon". "When is that child going to come back home"? "Soon".
Not any of this, "Oh, Joel. I don't know. The more I pray the worse he gets". "Did I tell you what he did last week"? Zip that up. Your answer should always be, "Soon". Say it by faith.
This young couple had such a confidence. Like the farmer, they knew their harvest was coming. One day the lady got an unexpected promotion, a huge increase. Everything fell into place. Do you know where that furniture is now? It's not in their new home. They gave it to another young couple that's believing for their dream to come to pass. That's what happens when you put actions behind your faith. It gets God's attention.
One time in the scripture a paralyzed man talked four of his friends into carrying him to another city where Jesus was teaching. When they arrived, the house was so crowded they couldn't get in. I'm sure the men that carried him were tired. Their shoulders were sore. They wanted to rest. But the paralyzed man said, "No, we've come too far to stop now. You've got to take me up on the roof and let me down through the ceiling".
Imagine, Jesus is up there teaching and he sees dust start to fall. A couple of ceiling tiles drop down. All this commotion as they lower the man down. The scripture says, "When Jesus saw their faith".
My question today is, "Can your faith be seen"? Are you doing anything to show God you're not just hoping, you're not just praying. Like the farmer, you're getting prepared. When Jesus saw their faith, he touched the man and he was made whole. Now that man could have stayed at home for 20 years believing. He could have prayed for the rest of his life. Nothing would have happened. But when your faith can be seen the Creator of the universe goes to work.
When my father was in his 60's he had to have open heart surgery. It was a very serious procedure because most of his arteries were blocked. There was no guarantee that he would come out okay. Our family was all in the room together before he was going to be taken into the operation. He asked me if I would go back home and get his tennis shoes and running suit and lay it by his bed.
My mother had already brought his pajamas and house shoes and everything that he would need. But my father wanted those tennis shoes there as an act of his faith. While he was recovering every time he looked at them he was saying, "I'm going to be out running again. I'm going to go all over the world. I've got many good years left in me".
You may be facing a health issue as well. In the natural it doesn't look good but don't make plans to go downhill. Don't tell your friends how bad it is and how you're never going to make it. Expect to get better. Put your tennis shoes in front of you. Plan a visit to go see your relatives. Renew your membership to the health club. Do something so your faith can be seen.
When my mother was so sick with cancer she told how she would lay in bed at night and these thoughts would come telling her, "You can be buried in that new pink dress that you bought". See, the enemy wants you to make plans for your funeral. He wants you to plan for defeat, for mediocrity. He would love for us to go through life with the wrong expectations. You've got to shake that off and make plans to live. Make plans for victory.
That Christmas in 1981, when my mother was given a few weeks to live, all of us kids went in together to buy my mother some china. That's what she wanted before she got sick. When my sister Lisa went to the store to pick it up only eight pieces were in stock. The other two pieces would have to be ordered. We were told that could take several months to come in.
Well, my mother was only given a few weeks to live and that was a month or so before. When she opened the china and she saw the note in it saying that the rest would be delivered in the spring of the next year, her first thought in the natural was, "I'm might not even be here". But we ordered that china on purpose to let my mother know we were expecting her to still be here. That china came in. Thirty-one years later my mother is still here, healthy, alive, strong. The funny thing is she has not served me one meal on that china. I'm going to talk about being grateful next week.
Can your faith be seen? Are you waiting like the farmer, making preparations for your harvest? The apostle Paul did this. He was in prison for spreading the good news. In the natural there was no reason to think that he would ever get out. It looked like that was his destiny. But Paul wasn't complaining. He wasn't discouraged. He was making plans to be free. He said to a friend that came to visit him, "Keep a guest room ready for me for I am filled with hope that God will answer my prayers". Here he's in prison. He doesn't need a guest room. My mom has been given a few weeks to live. We don't need to order her any china. My father is recovering from a major surgery. He doesn't need his tennis shoes. No, that's what it means to wait with expectancy. When God can see your faith he can do the impossible.
I read about this small town that had been in a drought for a long, long time. The local pastors called for a day of prayer on the town square. They asked everyone to bring some kind of object of their faith just to show that they were believing. Most people brought their Bibles. Some wore a cross or a t-shirt with an inspirational message. They joined hands and began to earnestly pray. It was a very moving scene as they were all gathered in faith asking God for rain.
After about ten minutes, almost perfectly on cue, it began to rain. They started shouting and singing, holding up their Bibles, their crosses in praise to God. But one little 8-year-old girl's object stood out among the rest. She opened up her big yellow umbrella that she had brought. The scripture tells us to have the faith of a little child. If you're praying for rain, it's not complicated; bring your umbrella. Let your faith be seen.
You remember in the old testament, the people of Israel came to the Jordan river. They needed to get across. Earlier, Moses had held up his rod and the Red Sea parted; a great miracle. This time it didn't happen that way. The scripture tells how they had to walk toward the water and as their feet and legs got wet then the river opened up.
I wonder how many of us are waiting for God to part the Sea like he did last time. God showed you favor, opened the door and you walked through it. But this time God has a Jordan river in front of you. It's not going to open up until your faith can be seen. What can you do to show God that you're trusting him? I'm not suggesting that you quit your job but can you bring a big yellow umbrella? Can you buy a new outfit to wear for when you get healthy again? Can you take that management course even though you were turned down for the promotion? That's waiting with expectancy. You're saying by your actions, "God, I'm expecting your light to come bursting in".
I know this lady. She's always been very heavy and struggled with her weight. She heard me talking about this. She went out and bought an outfit like ten sizes too small for her. People thought she was crazy. She told the lady helping her it was for someone else. She put that outfit up in her closet. Every time she saw it she would say, "Lord, thank you that I'm going to lose this weight. Thank you that I am strong. I'm disciplined. I'm focused and I'm going to wear this outfit".
No, it didn't happen overnight but several years later she was wearing that outfit, just as beautiful as can be.
A young couple I know, they've tried for many years to have a baby with no success. The medical report said that they would never be able to have a child. And while we love and respect doctors we know God can do what medical science cannot do. This couple went out and bought a baby's outfit, just a little girl's dress. They put it in their kitchen. Every time they saw it they would say, "Lord, you said children are a gift from you so we want to thank you for one of your gifts".
About two years later they came to the altar to dedicate their beautiful baby girl. You know what she was wearing? That outfit they had bought many years before. When your faith can be seen, God goes to work.
I heard the story of Gavin McLeod. He's an actor probably best known for playing the captain of the love boat; a popular TV program years ago. He and his wife Patti were married for seven years. They hit some bumps in the road and long story short, Gavin left. They went through a divorce. Patti was devastated. She never wanted the divorce.
Instead of giving up she not only prayed but she put actions behind her faith. Every night, even though she lived alone, she would set two places at the dinner table; one for her and one for Gavin, like the farmer, making preparations for her harvest. Four years later an unexpected knock at the front door; she opened it. It was Gavin. Patti smiled and said, "Come on in. Your dinner is getting cold".
Today, they have been re-married for over 26 years. Friends, when you wait with expectancy amazing things can happen. Here's my challenge; let your faith be seen. Make preparations for the harvest that you know is coming. Get up every morning. Bring your requests to God and then like David, go out looking for God's goodness, looking for good breaks, expecting God's favor.
When you face disappointments, something doesn't go your way, don't get discouraged. God promised the light is going to come bursting in. Suddenly the answer will come. Suddenly you'll get the breaks you need. God has some suddenlies in your future. He is not only going to bring you out, he is going to bring you out like job, with double, better off than you were before.
Now get your expectations up today. It may not have happened in the past but God is still on the throne. It can happen in your future. If you'll learn to wait with this expectancy and not get discouraged if it doesn't happen on your timetable, then like patti, you'll see what you were expecting come to pass. God's blessings will chase you down. The light is going to come bursting in. I believe and declare you will overcome every obstacle, defeat every enemy and you will become everything God has created you to be. In Jesus' name.