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January 17, 2008

How to face our future with eager expectation

by Dave Malnes

The town’s 4th of July parade is marching its way down Main Street. The sirens are blaring, the drums are rolling, and the motorcycles are revving their engines. A young girl with a balloon in her hand is craning her neck to catch the first glimpse of the coming parade. The excitement in her eyes reveal the eager expectation of seeing prancing horses, dancing clowns and beautiful crowned princesses waving to the crowd.

Eager expectation.

These are the words that are used by a man sitting in prison expecting a trial that will undoubtedly rule against his favor. The prospect of death is only a sharp gavel sound away. Yet, we do not see a glimpse of dark depression in his words of what the future may behold, but a “craning of the neck” to catch an eager glimpse of what lies ahead. This is the attitude of the Apostle Paul. He knew with great assurance and confidence that whatever happened, whether by life or his death, God was going to be glorified. And to him, that’s all that mattered.

“Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.  I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:18-21) 

Paul’s greatest and most consuming passion is to glorify Christ. Nothing else mattered. Whatever happens to him will be for his deliverance or “will turn out victoriously for me.” Whether Paul lived or died, he was confident that God was going to be glorified. Note his response to these circumstances? He rejoiced! Paul was confident that the Holy Spirit was going to supply him with all that was necessary to glorify Christ. Jesus Christ was the formula and the pattern for his life. No matter what the circumstances may be, Paul was eagerly expecting or “craning his neck” with anticipation to see how the Lord was going to use Him to glorify His Savior.

An unknown future in the midst of difficult circumstances can be the severest test of faith. Who are you going to trust? Man, yourself or God? If the end result could be life or death as a result of your testimony, where would you place your confidence?

In Paul, we see a confidence that the Holy Spirit was going to use him. The courage Paul expresses comes as a result of knowing that nothing, not even death, would ever break the union he had in Christ. Despite the verdict at his upcoming trial, it was going to turn out victoriously for him — even if it meant his death. Jesus said, “Greater love has not one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).” Christ’s love for all people was exhibited in his sacrificial death. Paul exhibits his sacrificial love for Christ by expressing his desire to glorify the Lord, no matter what the consequences may be.   

By trusting in Christ, especially in the midst of life’s difficulties, we can exhibit a powerful testimony to the world. With a spirit of confidence and eager expectation, we can tackle each day with a spirit of rejoicing.  For we know that the Lord has us in the palm of His hand, leading and guiding us according to His good purpose.

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