If one thing binds us, it’s that we anticipate outcomes—the stability of a relationship, gaining a promotion, reaching a level of financial independence, seeing our children succeed, securing a comfortable retirement. We are raised from childhood to anticipate the future.
As usual with the ancient Greeks, they had a word for it: prodekòmenos, someone absorbed in waiting.
I’m thinking of the Jewish people, God’s chosen, who have long anticipated the Messiah, who has been described as the consolation of Israel, and its glory.
Camus, the French philosopher and Nobel Laureate, said it well: “We need the sweet pain of anticipation to tell us we are really alive.”
Is this why it’s so difficult to live “in the moment?”
German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk writes that early Christians saw faith as simply “running ahead” to an idea they were uncertain could ever be attained. As he put it, faith is “purely anticipatory.”
Carly Simon rendered the thought in her classic, “Anticipation.”
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway
And I wonder if I'm really with you now
Or just chasin' after some finer day
One of the Christian proofs for the existence of God rests on the idea of anticipation—the empty, restless feeling that despite all we accomplish or possess, we continue to crave something more meaningful.
It’s called the “Argument from Desire” and British academic C.S. Lewis posited it in his 1952 classic book, Mere Christianity:
- There exists in us a desire that nothing on earth can satisfy.
- Therefore, there must exist something that can.
- This is what people call "life with God forever."
If we accept the truth of this, we can understand Jane Austen’s description that the “sanguine expectation of happiness is happiness itself.”
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