ANTICIPATION has a powerful effect on our lives, whether it be the anticipation of being reunited with a loved one, the prospect of new opportunities and experiences that come with a new qualification or job, awaiting results of exams in the post, or the simple yearning for a cold drink after some hard work in the garden. As we anticipate we run a video on the screen of our minds of the way in which the events will unfold; we rehearse our responses, feel each aspect of the journey, even savour the taste of refreshment before we have a drink in our hands. The power of anticipation is that it can commence the fulfilment of what is expected, even before it actually happens.
Statistics tell us that twice as many aged people die in the three months after a birthday than in the three months leading up to it. Psychologists put it down to the power of anticipation, driving the person on to reach a special milestone. My own great-grandmother died shortly after a longed-for reunion with a sister she had not seen for 77 years.
Of course many of us have known the anguish of disappointment that follows on unfulfilled expectations. The sense of betrayal is more acute when the expectation is of something close to our heart. The length of our "recovery" from such a setback is in direct proportion to our desire to see it fulfilled. This pain is identified in the Proverb "Hope deferred makes the heart sick."
There is a lot of anticipation generated at this time of year. We need to ask ourselves the question, "Is what we are really hoping for worthy of high expectation?". What is foremost in our minds in this Advent Season? There is One who is Faithful. What do we anticipate from His hand?
December 17, 1995