I hope that this blog on hope will bring hope to those who are without hope who are hoping beyond all hope that they will find hope. I often find language limited and the written word lacking when it comes to conveying ideas that involve emotion. I am in awe of wordsmiths that paint pictures through the beautiful meter of their sentences, through the perfect selection and placement of each word, and through metaphors and similes that elevate their work to a level far beyond the written musings of the average person. Still, I find when it comes to the concept of biblical hope the wordsmiths with all their literary skills and giftings can do little to convey its meaning. “Blogger Dave” will now attempt to do what many more experienced and skilled writers have failed to accomplish – explain biblical hope.
Every day the word hope is used but what do we mean when we use it?
We define hope as a want/wish for good things to happen that are in the normal realm of possibility. I dream of becoming a millionaire – almost impossible, but I hope I can pay all my bills and have a little money left over for dinner and a movie – definitely possible. I dream of being married to a drop dead gorgeous wife (I don’t dream as this is my reality), almost impossible for most, I hope to have a beautiful wife and marriage – definitely possible. My hopes are based on what I want to see happen.
We derive our hope from our past experiences or observations. I hope that I will be able to retire a little earlier than 65 because I have heard of or know people who have been able to save so they can retire early. My hopes are based on what I have seen happen.
Our hope is kept alive by what is happening right now. We enter a store that sells sports equipment and ask the first employee we see if they carry baseball equipment. The sales person says, “third aisle on your left,” you say to yourself, “I hope they have baseball gloves.” The reality of where you are and what you are seeing makes the possibility of having your hope fulfilled very high. My hopes are based in what I am seeing happen.
Sometimes to properly explain what something is, you have to establish what it is not.
Hope in everyday life is about what I want to see happen, what I have seen happen and what I am seeing happen, but that is not biblical hope. I am not saying that people in the Bible didn’t base their hope on what they wanted to see happen, what they saw happen and what they were seeing happen, I am just pointing out that the hope we are supposed to have according to the Bible is not based on these things. The Jews in Jesus’ time were looking for the Messiah, the Saviour mentioned by the Prophets. They assumed that what the Messiah would do to save them was the same as what they wanted to see happen. They wanted to see Him overthrow the occupying Romans and give them their land back. Based on what they saw during Jesus’ life, He was a great man with miraculous power who claimed to be the Saviour, there was reason for hope that he could save them from the Romans. Based on what they saw happening to Him during Good Friday, all hope was gone that He was the Saviour talked about by the Prophets.
Life will throw a lot at us, hoping for the best isn’t a biblical strategy.
We often feel hopeless because our hope is not biblical. The idea behind biblical hope is not based on what we want to see, have seen or are seeing but instead it is based on faith in God and His perfect plan. Worldly hope is a wish for the best outcome, biblical hope is waiting for God’s outcome. Worldly hope is a wish that something might happen at some point, biblical hope is based in our faith that all of God’s promises will happen at the appointed time. Worldly hope is a wish based in our perception, biblical hope is faith in God’s perfection regardless of our perception. Our hope as followers of Christ is not a hope because we are waiting to see if it happens but instead it is hope because we are waiting knowing that it will happen. For now, as Paul pointed out in his second letter to the Corinthians, “we live by faith not by sight.”
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)