Where there is no expectation, there can be no faith.
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:23) There was the expectation within the mind of Abraham that God would do as He promised, and the knowledge that the Lord would do as He promised caused Abraham to believe, and His faith was shown as truth.
As children of the Most High, we expect God to keep His promises, as He does so in our lives, our faith in Him grows, and we continue to expect Him to do as He has said, while placing no stipulations upon Him to do so. If you do not expect miracles in your life, you will see none, if you do not expect answers to your prayers, there is no need to pray. This is, in a sense, a two-way street, it is no free ride, the Lord expects us to continue in our part of the bargain, to believe “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Tim. 1:12)
Faith is the belief that God will indeed perform all that He has promised in His Word to us, but we must believe without question. Doubting in this area is a sin, it shows a lack of trust in Him who has countless times proven Himself trustworthy. When the cupboards are bare, we are to trust, when the income ceases, when the entire planet seems to be wallowing in evil, at all times, we are to trust, and to trust means that we expect the Lord to fulfill all He has spoken to us in the Scriptures.
There are verses that speak to these expectations, the one previously stated, 2 Timothy 1:12, and “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) We expect all these to happen, and by faith we believe them to be true.
Will circumstances hinder us for a season? Of course. John the Baptist sent his friends to ask the Lord, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matt. 11:3) We question the Almighty a lot, because we were made to be inquisitive. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14) But we are never to doubt His promises.
I pray for wisdom often, and I have received wisdom, as promised in James 1:5 I expect an answer because the Word says if I ask, I will receive, (John 14:13) but He has not imparted unto me all wisdom, for He is merciful. “For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” (Eccl. 1:18) And there are indeed days that I have desired that He would remove the knowledge of unrighteousness that must come with wisdom. Somedays the burden is quite heavy.
As long as I ask in His name and for His glory, I expect an answer, but not the answer I expect. That is also part of the bargain, if you will, those servants of the Lord who ask must be willing to accept the answer that is given.
In the most fundamental of ways, our faith is based on the expectation of the Lord revealing Himself to us by actions in our lives, faith without the substance of works of some form is an unsubstantiated faith, it must be proven to be true. It is why the Lord said in Malachi 3:10, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” A fearful thing indeed, for dust to put the Creator to a test.
Grace is not free, it cost the Lord Jesus Christ everything, and “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” (Isaiah 53:10) For us to think that just believing in Christ without any fruits of the Spirit evident in our lives is to say that we do not expect the Lord to answer our prayers, that we do not expect Him to do anything in our lives. That would be foolishness. We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, He expects us to do that, we expect Him to lead us in that growth.