We live in trying and stressful times. Now, more than ever, we need to have hope. Today, hope is generally considered a feeling of wishing for or desiring something. Is that the kind of hope we need?
People say things like, “I hope our team wins,” or “I hope I get this job.” We desire these things to happen, considering our preferred outcome possible but not assured.
There are many sayings about hope, some from famous people. I saw a clever acronym that used the letters of hope to stand for “Hold On, Pain Ends.” Some sayings are true and some are helpful, but many are vague, sentimental “fluffies,” as I call them. For example:
Something real, practical, and down-to-earth is far better. And in the Bible, the meaning of hope is far richer. This biblical topic is far too extensive for a brief commentary, but a quick overview of what the Bible says about grounded hope can be instructive.
The words for hope in the Bible have several meanings. Biblically, hope is an indication of certainty; a strong and confident anticipation and expectation; trust; waiting patiently and, if bearing affliction, enduring; not static or idle but dynamic and active, motivated to action.
The first thing to understand about hope is that God Himself is a source of hope. One example of this is found in Jeremiah 17:7: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” And verse 13 adds, “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed.” The word translated here as trusts means to be secure, confident, or sure. And the word translated hope means refuge, security, assurance, confidence, and trust. Each is a different English form of the same Hebrew word.
The New Testament, originally written in Greek, consistently uses a word that corresponds to these Old Testament words, having the meaning of “trust.” Biblical hope is not wishful thinking. Rather, it is trusting that Jesus Christ will do what He promised and eagerly looking forward to the outcome.
Just as He was the hope of Israel, Jesus is the hope of His followers. Why? Because the Lord, Jesus Christ, will bring about all that He has promised: His return to rule the earth and restore all things, heal the nations, establish real peace that the leaders of this world can never bring, and, ultimately, fulfill all that is said in His word, the Bible.
The Apostle Paul refers to “God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,” in 1 Timothy 1:1. The word hope here means “to anticipate, usually with pleasure… expectation… confidence” (“1680. elpis,” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). In 1 Timothy 4:10, Paul says, “We trust in the living God.” The word is another form of hope, meaning “to expect or confide” (“1679. elpizó”).
Our real hope is in God and His word. If you study the word hope, you will discover how important hope truly is. Repeatedly, the Bible tells us to hope in God and in His word. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope [anticipation, expectation, or confidence]” (Romans 15:4).
Our hope should be in the Lord, Jesus Christ. In these troubling times, “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (v. 13).