Waiting Expectantly or with Expectations

“Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for him.” (Ps 37:7 HCSB)

When we sit in silence before the Lord, do we wait expectantly, as the psalmist says, or do we wait for Him to fulfill our expectations? If we are waiting for Him to fulfill our specific expectations, we may be waiting for a long time and we may experience a great deal of disappointment. God may not have the same plans in mind for our lives that we have. He may never deliver exactly what we are asking of Him. He may have something completely different planned for us.

The difference between waiting expectantly and waiting with expectations reminds me of a child who has submitted a wish list to his parents (and perhaps to Santa Claus) with the expectation that he will receive everything on his list when he awakens on Christmas morning. He has put in his order, which he expects will be fulfilled. What happens on Christmas morning when the child does not receive everything he included on his list? He will likely experience disappointed, regardless of the number of presents he did receive. On the other hand, if the child did not submit a specific list of wants and wishes, he has no expectations as to what he will receive, and he will likely be more excited and grateful for all that his family gives him. 

If we seek the Lord with our wish list in hand, waiting for Him to fulfill all of our, we are likely to end up defeated and depressed when He doesn’t deliver exactly what we want. We may grow to feel that He doesn’t care about us. We may grow to feel like He owes us something and that He is holding out on us because He is not answering our requests and our expectations.

Waiting before the Lord expectantly is a completely different attitude than waiting before Him with expectations. When we wait expectantly, we are filled with joy by just being in the presence of the One who loves us more than we can understand, who wants the best for us and the best from us. We humbly bow before Him as His servants, as His beloved children. As such, we have no room to make demands or place expectations on what we think He should deliver to us.

When we wait before Him expectantly, we are eager to see what He has in store for us. We are watching closely, excited about what His next move will be, what He is going to do next, where He will lead us, and what unexpected blessings He will bestow upon us.

The Hebrew word the HCSB translates as “waiting expectantly” means to wait, “implying a hope of resolution to some situation…await eagerly for a future event” (DBL Hebrew 3498). We have hope that the Lord will move, that He has plans that He will bring to fulfillment. This is neither waiting in defeat, thinking there’s nothing He can do; nor is it supplying Him with a list of demands, with our faith hinging on His exact delivery of all the items on our wish list.

Psalm 37:7 reminds of Christy Nockel’s song, “Waiting Here for You.”

You are everything You’ve promised; Your faithfulness is true
We’re desperate for Your presence; all we need is You
Waiting here for You with our hands lifted high in praise
Chris Tomlin / Jesse Reeves/
Waiting Here For You © Capitol Christian Music Group


This beautiful song of praise and the words of Psalm 37:7 both express the simple joy of being in God’s presence, waiting in eager expectation for whatever He is going to do next because even if it doesn’t look exactly like our ideas or plans, we know it will be for good.

“Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for him.” (Ps 37:7 HCSB)

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