Hope. It’s a loaded word.
What exactly is hope? What is the basis for it? How do we learn to hope? And how does it look to you?
We hope for many things, and in many people. We hold onto hope amid uncertainty.
We bear hope in the small things – I hope that I can leave school on time today so that I can make it for the concert – and the big things – I hope she pulls through, you whisper, staring through the glass surrounding the ICU ward.
This natural human inclination to hope for something reflects a recognition of a higher power – or at least the longing for one. A higher being who will hear our cries for help. Something, someone for us to cast our worries onto.
I was a cynical 16-year-old when I attended my first church service, ready to disprove God with my real-life experiences with hope and its failure.
Hope is no bad thing. Hope brings people together. Hope gives people the strength to carry on. But it is not to be confused with optimism. Human hope more often than not ends us up in disappointment.
I know this disappointment too well. When I was 14, I hoped to become a doctor. Through my growing up years, I hoped to lose weight and be skinny like all other girls. I hoped for a relationship that would last and a high-flying job in the marketplace.
I hoped for many things and put my hope in many people, but all these things eventually fell through and I was crushed time after time with disappointment. I was emptied by false hope.
I was a cynical 16-year-old when I attended my first church service. I was ready to disprove God with my real-life experiences with hope and its failure. But I realised I’d got it all wrong.
I have learnt that hope is, in truth, almost the opposite of our ordinary usage. Hope is an indication of certainty; a confident expectation.
Hope tells us that God has not abandoned us in this world. There will be tears, but He will wipe them away. There will be death and decay, but resurrection and new life will eventually spring forth.
It is hope that erases the victory of the grave. Hope is what helps us to sing, “Death, where is your sting?”
Hope is just like a reservoir of strength.
Hebrews 6:11 calls us to the “full assurance of hope”. It means a hope that is fully assured. It is confident. Certain. Not a “fingers-crossed” hope. It does not waver. It is not the lip-biting and heart-stopping moment as you watch your team take a direct free-kick in the last minute of a match.
When Psalm 42:5 (NKJV) says, “Hope in God!” it does not mean to cross your fingers. It does not mean that God might work.
Hope tells us that God has not abandoned us in this world.
Human hope disappoints everyone eventually. Even Christ-followers. It will never satisfy us. It is short-lived and temporal. It wavers and easily fades away. Perhaps you have been hoping for a long time that you’re now bordering on hopelessness.
Eight years ago, I came to church completely deflated by false hopes. That very day, the pastor preached a sermon about real hope – and I was sold. My problem wasn’t that I was harbouring hope, but that I’d placed my hopes in things and people that would inevitably fail.
Roadblocks will still be in our way and difficulties will still befall us. But real hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Be confident that He will come through. Be strong in God. Be courageous in God. Stand strong in Him.
Put your hope in Him.