Have you ever considered the difference between waiting and anticipating Wait for a pot of water to boil… or anticipate the delicious pasta it will soon be cooking. Wait for a baby to be born… or anticipate her arrival.
Waiting references a need for time to pass; it has little emotional association. Anticipation, on the other hand, refers to expectations, excitement, and hopefulness. It evokes an emotional response and often prompts action. That delicious pasta needs a sauce to go into and that baby girl needs diapers, clothing, and nourishment. Anticipating a certain outcome mentally prepares us to get ready.
Are you waiting for God to answer a specific prayer? Or are you preparing in anticipation of His response? In Luke 2, we meet two people who had spent decades looking forward to the day they would meet the Messiah:
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took [Jesus] to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord… Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. (Luke 2:22,25-26)
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. (Luke 2:36-37)
Simeon and Anna both met Mary and Joseph in the temple courts because they were lead by the Holy Spirit to do so. The years they spent in prayer heightened their ability to discern God’s voice. Decades of dedication prompted swift obedience.
Can you imagine their excitement? To hear a still small voice whisper, He’s here. It’s time. Go meet the One you’ve been waiting for. The greatest one thing they were hoping for their entire lives was happening. God made good on His promise by answering their prayer. Simeon remarks, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.” (Luke 2:29) Anna “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)
Simeon and Anna weren’t surprised by God’s faithfulness and we shouldn’t be either. I John 5:14-15 encourages us to be confident that God hears our prayers and gives us whatever we ask for according to His will. Perhaps God has placed a calling, longing, or vision on your heart – are you waiting for it to fall into place? Or are you eagerly anticipating the fulfillment of His promise? Believe that His timing is always perfect. Find purpose in the preparation. And embrace the expectation of answered prayers.