Webster defines hope: Desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment, to expect with confidence. We often use hope as a wish as oppose to an expectation. “I hope everything comes out alright”.
The word for hope in Hebrew in the Old Testament is closely associated with trust. The Greek word in the New Testament is also associated with trust along with eager expectation.
In Max Lucado’s book: God Came Near, he describes hope as: “Hope is not what you expect, it is what you would never dream. Hope is not a granted wish or a favor performed; no, it is far greater than that. It’s a dependence on God who loves you.”
In his book, Hope Again, Charles Swindoll writes: “Hope isn’t merely a nice option that helps us temporarily clear a hurdle. It’s essential to our survival. Hope is a wonderful gift from God, a source of strength and courage in the face of life’s harshest trials. Put simply, when life hurts and dreams fade, nothing helps like hope. Hope plays a vital role in life.”
Mr. Swindoll continues with examples of trials where hope provides strength and courage:
- When we are trapped in a tunnel of misery, hope points to the light at the end.
- When we are discouraged, hope lifts our spirits
- When we struggle with a crippling disease or a lingering illness, hope helps us persevere beyond the pain.
- When we fear the worst, hope brings reminders that God is still in control.
- When we must endure the consequences of bad decisions, hope fuels our recovery.
- When we feel rejected and abandoned, hope reminds us we are not alone…we will make it.
- When we say our final farewell to someone we love, hope in the life beyond gets us through our grief.
As I thought about his points, the words belief, relationship, trust, and faith kept coming into my mind. In order to have hope, we must believe in God, have a close relationship with him and place total trust and faith in him. But what is the source of hope for people who do not believe in God or have no relationship with him? Their hope is in themselves, other people, natural circumstances in the world, money, other possessions, and technologies like medicine. These play a part in hope but without God behind them, they are without certainty. We experience our own failures, people that we place hope in disappoint us, money and possessions are very uncertain, medicine sometimes fails us. Think about these verses and think about where your hope lies.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you …...to give you hope and a future
Psalm 42:5 - … Put your hope in God
Psalm 62:5 - …. My hope comes from him
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart…
Romans 12:12 – Be joyful in hope…
Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope….
I Timothy 6:17 - …. not to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain but to put their hope in God
Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is being sure of what we hope form and certain of what we do not see.
God and Christ will always endure as our hope!
We all have hopes for a good life, a wonderful marriage, children and hopes for them, and for successful careers and so on, all earthly hopes. What about eternal hopes? Mr. Swindoll asks: “How can we concern ourselves that much over what happens on this temporary planet when we know that it is all leading us to our eternal destination?” The Bible has several verses that give hope for heaven.
I Ephesians 1:18 - … you may know the hope which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance …
Colossians 1:27 - ……which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Titus 2:13 - … While we wait for the blessed hope---the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ ….
Hebrews 6:19 - … We have this hope as an anchor for the soul….
I Peter:3-5 - … he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
I Peter 3:15 - … …Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone that asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Our lives hold hope for things both on earth and in heaven. What if my hope dims or I lose all hope? We all probably know people who have lost hope. Kay’s youngest brother, Brian, did. From an early age he struggled with what we now believe was bipolar. Brian tended to hear a different drummer. In his early twenties he rode a motorcycle from southern California to Memphis in the dead of winter. He was struggling with his way of life and what he thought Christianity demanded of him, so he was not around the family very much. Later, we found out he was an alcoholic, but when he graduated from the AA program things were looking up. He started working for a casino outside Memphis and soon became a highly respected backroom poker dealer for the rich customers. In the fall of 1998, Brian lost hope and took his own life. As we went through his personal things, we found liquor bottles stashed all over the house and learned from his girlfriend that he had a total relapse. She also informed us that he had a serious gambling problem. Brian could not reconcile his Christian up bringing with his failures and the expectation of others, so he lost hope of living the Christian life.
George Weinberg, psychologist, writes: “Hope never abandons you, you abandon it!”
Mr. Swindoll writes: “Two words will help you when you run low on hope: accept and trust. Accept the mystery of hardship, suffering, misfortune, or mistreatment. Don’t try to understand it or explain it. Accept it. Then, deliberately trust God to protect you by his power from this very moment to the drawing of eternity.”
What actions should I peruse if I or someone I know are struggling with hope?
- Double down on your prayer life.
- Pray with trust and expectation that God will recue you.
- Get a prayer partner who will pray with you and for you with the same trust and expectation.
- Pray with the elders, James 5:16 tells us the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
- The first answer therapist and counselors give is to seek professional help. That’s good but do not leave out the first four. Choose a Christian counselor!
The premise of God Came Near is that Jesus is always in our lives especially at our greatest times of need, if we look for him. To paraphrase: Jesus does his best work at moments when we face trials. “Just when the truth about life sinks in, his truth starts to surface. He takes us by the hand and dares us not to sweep the facts under the rug but to confront them with him at our side.”
“Funerals, divorces, illnesses, and stays in the hospital-----you can’t lie about life at such times. Maybe that’s why he’s always present at such moments.”
“The next time you find yourself alone in a dark alley facing the undeniables of life, don’t cover them with a blanket, or ignore them with a nervous grin. Don’t turn up, the TV and pretend they aren’t there. Instead, stand still, whisper his name, and listen. He is nearer than you think.”
Jesus is near so that’s HOPE!
Next: How can I help someone find hope?