Defining Hope Biblically
Bible Reading: Romans 8:18-25
In his book, “Hope Again,” Chuck Swindoll wrote, “Hope is something as important to us as water is to a fish, as vital as electricity is to a light bulb, as essential as air is to a jumbo jet. Hope is basic to life…Take away our hope, and our world is reduced to something between depression and despair… hope is more than wishful thinking. Hope is a vital necessity of life–a gift that God wants to give to you. And in a world that regularly writes dreams off as foolish and drains the hope from the heart with dark pessimism (Biblical hope) “is a voice crying in the wilderness.”
Indeed, we have a desperate need for hope, but not just the ordinary kind. Many of our hopes are more of the wishing and hoping variety. We hope for things. Like, I hope the weather will be nice tomorrow. Or, I hope this COVID pandemic will end soon. Or, I hope I’ll get that new job, or new house, or a new friend, etc. etc. etc. Webster defines hope as a “desire accompanied by anticipation or expectation.” That’s how we commonly use the term. The problem is there’s little certainty associated with most of the things we hope for.
Biblical hope, on the other hand, has no measure of uncertainty associated with it. Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines the term “elpis” (i.e. “hope”) this way: “in the New Testament, “favorable and confident expectation…It has to do with the unseen and the future.” Biblical hope has to do with possessing a confident expectation regarding some unseen future reality. Romans 8:24-25 speaks to this, “For in this hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Hope is an attitude. It is a way of thinking about things which affects our whole being; our mind, our will, and our emotions. This Biblical hope is well founded on the “God of Hope.” God, being eternal, knowing the end from the beginning, has no need for hope, yet He is well able to impart hope to His hope-needy creatures (Romans 15:13). Because He is faithful, we can count on Him to do all He has promised. His Word is true. The Scriptures include countless promises pertaining to the believer in Christ, we can stand on them with the confident expectation that each will be fulfilled. “Christ Jesus (is) our hope” and the focal point of our hope is His return for us (1 Timothy 1:1). The “Spirit of Promise” is “the guarantee of our inheritance.” He is well able to “open the eyes of your hearts” so you will “know what is the hope to which he has called you” (Ephesians 1:13-14, 18).
Most would agree the days in which we live are characterized by a lot of uncertainty. We have our own personal struggles and trials, yet there is also a growing palpable tension in our country, evident in the divisive climate and drastic changes we’ve all experienced. If our vision is restricted to the here and now, we will hunger for hope. But if we look to God, who is faithful, and His Word, which is true, we can possess both “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” The uncertainty of these days has opened a door of unprecedented opportunity for God’s people, being filled with hope, to bear witness to Jesus (1 Peter 3:15)! He is our shining hope!
Biblical hope is a confident expectation regarding some unseen future reality.
Heavenly Father, in the pursuit of earth bound hopes we’ve had our hearts broken way too many times. Indeed we are prone to wander, seal our hearts to Thy courts above. As we look to the glorious future, You’ve graciously worked to prepare for us, grant us that we might not be distracted on our journey. By the Spirit, may our hearts rejoice, being filled up with the confident expectation of the future blessings that lie ahead. May we be so filled with hope, that other hope-needy folks might see You in us and find their way to You, the God of Hope. Amen.