I have read a lot of articles and books about faith. One of the people that present a refreshing inside on faith is A. W. Tozer. The following view of faith comes from his work, minimally edited for clarity.
Expectation and faith, though alike, are not identical. An instructed person will not confuse the two. True faith is never found alone; it is always accompanied by expectation. If you believe something, you expect to see it fulfilled. Where there is no expectation there is no faith.
It is, however, quite possible for expectation to be present where no faith is. The mind is quite capable of mistaking strong desire for faith. Indeed faith, as commonly understood, is little more than desire compounded with cheerful optimism. Certain writers make a comfortable living promoting that kind of so-called faith which is supposed to create the “positive” as opposed to the negative mind. Their effusions are dear to the hearts of those in the population who are afflicted with a psychological compulsion to believe, and who manage to live with facts only by the simple expedient of ignoring them.
Real faith is not the stuff dreams are made of; rather it is tough, practical, and altogether realistic. Faith sees the invisible but it does not see the nonexistent. Faith engages God, the one great Reality, who gave and gives existence to all things. God’s promises conform to reality, and whoever trusts them enters a world not of fiction but of fact.
In common experience we arrive at truth by observation. Whatever can be verified by experiment is accepted as true. Men believe the report of their senses. If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck. And if its eggs hatch into little ducks the test is about complete.
Probability gives way to certainty; it is a duck. This is a valid way to deal with our environment. No one dare complain about it for everyone does it. It is the way we manage to get on in this world.
But faith introduces another and radically different element into our lives. “By faith we know” is the word that lifts our knowing onto a higher level. Faith engages facts that have been revealed from heaven and by their nature they do not respond to scientific tests. By faith, a person knows a thing to be true, not because he has verified it in experience but because God has said it. His expectations spring from his confidence in the character of God.
Expectation has always been present in the church in the times of her greatest power. When she believed, she expected, and her Lord never disappointed her. “And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Lk. 1:45, KJV).
Every great movement of God in history, every unusual advance in the Church, every revival, has been preceded by a sense of keen anticipation. Expectation accompanied the operations of the Spirit always. His bestowals hardly surprised His people because they were gazing expectantly toward the risen Lord and looking confidently for His word to be fulfilled. His blessings accorded with their expectations.
One characteristic that marks the average person today is a lack of anticipation. Average people do not expect anything unusual to happen; consequently only the usual happens, and that usual is as predictable as the setting of the sun. A psychology of nonexpectation pervades the average people.
We need today a fresh spirit of anticipation that springs out of the promises of God. We must declare war on the mood of nonexpectation, and come together with childlike faith. Only then can we know again the beauty and wonder of the Lord’s presence among us.