When you hear the word hope, what comes to mind? What do you think of? What do you picture? What do you feel? What words do you associate with hope?
Hope is an amazing thing, but a dangerous thing when it is misunderstood and misused. When we get the definition or conceptualization of hope wrong we can pay dearly for it, especially in our relationships.
Sometimes understanding comes with knowing what something is not, so let’s begin with what hope is not.
Hope is not:
Hope goes far beyond the circumstances of our day. Our hope really cannot be confined to or defined by what is or is not in our day, and yet, we often love to do this. We love to base our hope on what our day holds
* We have a good day if our children obey right away, if we feel connect to our spouse, if our boss is kind, if there is no traffic, if the Starbucks line is short – and they get my order right… basically, we have a good day if everything goes smooth, and how we want it!
We often wrap our hope up in the how we feel about what is happening in our day to day, which is no wonder we are regularly left defeated, dejected, deflated and discouraged. But hope is not circumstantial.
Hope is also not based on or founded in our expectations. The temptation for us is to place our hope in the expectations we have of our ourselves, our spouses, children, etc. If our hope is contingent upon our expectations we will often find ourselves disappointed and discouraged. Allowing our hope to be misplaced and mismanaged, relying on circumstances and expectations to guide our hope, our hope becomes fleeting. Changing with the circumstances or the next set of expectations.
When our hope is fleeting our sense of stability, reliability and certainty crumble. We have nothing to cling to when life is challenging, when things do not go as we had planned, expected, “hoped.” And as a result we can often find ourselves grasping at hope anywhere we think we will find it. Ultimately our hope is purely focused on the temporal – it changes with our circumstances, situations, expectations, moods, relationships, etc. It is nothing sustainable or enduring. Ultimately it is nothing with purpose or meaning beyond what feels good, sounds good and makes us look good.
Hope is much bigger than the here and now, it goes beyond what our day may or may not have in it, it cannot be determined by our expectations or circumstances. It’s got to be deeper!
Hope cannot be a cheap, insignificant thing. Hope cannot be just a fluffy, fuzzy feeling that makes us feel better in the moment. Because what happens when our moments don’t really change? Hope must go beyond us – and not in some yogi, Oprahology, new age-y way, but in a certainty of who God is kind of way. It must be true! Steadfast! Unchanging! Unwavering! Holy! It must be in God alone, in the enteral alone, for salvation alone, and for righteousness alone! Hope is the sure knowledge of who God is, and that He will do what He has promised to do for those who are found in Him. Hope is an anchor for our soul, rooted in the complete work of Jesus Christ, who paid for our sins in his death and resurrection.
Psalm 33:20-22 Our soul waits for the Lord, He is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Hope in the Lord goes beyond anything this world can offer us or promise us, by way of comfort, peace, success, wealth, honor, etc. Hoping in Jesus does not mean our life will be without problems – that it will be all blessings and no suffering. In fact, if you take a close look throughout scripture, those who hoped in the Lord, who’s faith was unwavering, suffered a great deal. Jesus himself said, the world will hate you because they hated me (Matt 10:22, Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17, John 15:18). In Hebrews 11 we have what is referred to as the Hall of Fame of faith, and in that we see these great men and women of God who did not receive what they have been promised this side of Heaven, but their hope was not in the comforts of the world or even in the promises being enjoyed in this life, but rather their hope was in eternity.
We need to be ever mindful of the hope we have in Jesus, in salvation, in the eternal, so the disappointments, struggles and circumstances of the temporal do not throw us off course. Our soul is anchored to truth – we are not a free floating vessel – and we have our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and prefect of our faith (Heb 12:12). We do not get hung up in the false hopes this world tries to distract and discourage us with. We know who are savior is, and in Him alone do we hope!
We anticipate the enteral, rather than expect the temporal. The anticipation of the promises we have in Jesus (the hope we have in Heaven, in salvation) go beyond the moment to moment experiences of our life. So when life is not what we thought it was going to be, when our relationship are not what we were hoping they’d be, etc., we weigh all of it with eternity in mind. This doesn’t mean the temporary doesn’t hurt or even bum us out (for more than a fleeting moment), it simply means we do not allow the temporary to define us or to determine (influence) our joy.
Matthew 6:19-22 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do no break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
My Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
I cannot leave you with a better word – let us all rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and above all, constant in prayer. Jesus is our hope!
- Amy Oliver