Someone once told me that Christians are in the business of hope, which is ironic since many Christians don’t know what hope is. Do you know what it is?
For some hope is little more than wishful thinking. “I hope I win the lottery.” “I hope the Cubs win the World Series.” “I hope he’ll change after we’re married.” The problem with that kind of hope is that it’ll disappoint you more often than not. Plus it’s not the kind of hope we read about in the Bible.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. (1 Cor 13:13a)
I used to wonder about this verse. I understood faith and love, but I couldn’t get my head around hope. Why does Paul say hope remains or abides? In my experience, hope was anything but permanent. Hope was a gossamer thread that snapped all the time.
What is hope?
Google the word hope and most of the quotes and definitions you’ll find will be riddled with cynicism and disappointment. “Hope is the worst of all evils,” said Friedrich Nietzsche, “Because it prolongs the torments of man.” Ouch!
Because so many have been disappointed, hope is widely seen as a bad thing. It’s a bait for hiding any dangerous hook, which makes it hard to talk about the gospel of hope.
So what is hope? Here’s a great definition: Hope is a rope that links us to a truth not yet experienced.
The key word in that definition is truth. Everyone has a hope rope, but if you hitch your rope to something that is not true, you’re going to be disappointed. “I thought he was a good guy, but he hurt me bad. Now I don’t trust any man.”
When disappointments come, you may blame your hope rope, but the problem is not the rope. It’s what you’ve hitched it to. I like what Darin Hufford says about hope in The Misunderstood God:
(Hope) was created for truth and nothing but truth. There is a hitch on the back of truth that we can connect our hope to that pulls us through challenges and circumstances we couldn’t otherwise make it through. (p.177)
Hope is knowing, not wishing. It’s a confident expectation of something that is true, not something that may be turn out to be false. Hope is Little Orphan Annie singing, “The sun’ll come out tomorrow” because the sun will come out tomorrow.
Why does hope matter?
Hope is extremely important. We can’t live without hope. Hope gives us strength. Hope helps us endure. Someone once defined hope as, “Hold On, Pain Ends.”
If you’re going through hardships, you need hope. If you’ve heard a bad report, hold onto your hope. When your hope rope is hitched to truth, there’s nothing you can’t endure.
But hope is only as good as the truth it is hitched to. If you’ve hitched your hope rope to a man or woman, you’re going to be let down. It’s inevitable.
Where does hope come from?
Hope comes from God.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)
There is no greater Truth to which you can affix your hope rope than Daddy-God himself. At one time we were “without hope and without God,” but “on him we have set our hope” (Eph 2:12, 2 Cor 1:9-10).
Attach your hope rope to anything less than God and you set yourself up for failure and disappointment. But put your hope in him and you’ll reign in life.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Pet 1:3)
What is a living hope? It is a hope in a risen Lord who gives life and hope to the dead. This world will crush your hopes and dreams, but your heavenly Father does not want you to become hopeless. You have a great need for hope; you have a great God who meets your need. Here’s Hufford again:
When our wasted hope in untrue things comes to an end, and we are empty inside and without hope, God is there, supplying a new dose of it, because he knows that without hope we will never get better. (p.181)
When you are shaken by bad news the temptation is to look around for hope. Don’t look around; look up! Fix your eyes on Jesus.
But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. (Psa 39:7)
The remedy for bad news is good news. “Do not move from the hope held out in the gospel” (Col 1:23). When the shaking comes, hold onto that hope-rope and don’t let go. When the doctor speaks death, listen to Jesus who speaks life. When your boss says something bad, listen to your Father who says something good.
You’ll never walk by faith unless you’re walking by hope and you’ll never walk in hope unless you’re walking in your Father’s love. Faith, hope and love go together, but the greatest of these is love. No love, no hope. Know his love and you’ll know hope.
In a world of shattered dreams, thank God for a living hope! Thank God for Jesus in whose name the nations will put their hope (see Matt 12:21).