Hope, not Hope So
Hope. We all want it.
Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.
Christians talk a lot about our hope.
That is because there are a lot of Scripture verses about it. It is a key word in the Bible. A key theological concept.
What is this hope?
I remember being in a Bible study years ago and a woman saying she thought "hope" was such a strange word to use for our belief. Why? Because hope is often thought of as the "hope so" kind. The kind we aren't so sure will happen, but we want it to happen. When people think of hope they think of a strong desire or an expectation. This isn't what biblical hope is. It is bigger than that.
HOPE > Hope So
Biblical hope is knowing our eternity is sealed. That we have a future inheritance through Christ. That we belong to God. That through the blood of Christ we are covered and declared righteous before God. He will remember our sin no more! We are forgiven! It is not only about our future salvation, in other words going to heaven; it is about our life right now. Knowing that God is in control of our lives. That He loves us deeply with a kind of love that we can only sort of understand. It is knowing that He wants what is good for us. That He is with us as we walk through this life - guiding us, helping us, comforting us. That He can change what is going on in our lives right now. That He can change us.
Having biblical hope implies trust. In that sense it makes it very similar to faith.
Biblical hope is a certainty. A surety. It's a done deal.
It comes with knowing God and trusting Him. Trusting that what He has promised us is truth.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
I don't think hope comes at the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. At least it didn't for me. At the time I was justified (believed) I had a level of hope. But it was much more the "hope so" kind of hope than real biblical hope. I had my doubts about some of it. I had doubts at times. Am I really saved? Does God really care what happens to me? God, are you there? Do you see my pain? Do you hear me? Do you care? It just all seemed too good to be true at times - that all I had to do was give God control and He would take over this mess I had made of my life.
As the years went on, at some point I crossed that line from "hope so" to "hope."
How do we get the Christian hope?
It is from God.
My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.
and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
For me it came from all directions. From things I'd hear at church and things I'd hear other Christians talk about. It came from listening to Christian radio. It came from prayer and intimacy with God. It came from experiencing God's hand in my life. It came from learning about God and Christianity by reading various books. It came from taking classes on the Bible. BUT the number one way I acquired this hope was by reading the Bible for myself. Absolutely.
I read from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) which uses the word lovingkindness when describing God interacting with us. (Other versions use the word "loving.") Over and over it uses the word "lovingkindness." I started noticing it. I started underlining it and highlighting it. And at some point I came to believe God loves me kindly. I started reading about the "inheritance" we can expect. At some point I believed I have an inheritance. I saw how God helped His people and I came to believe He would help me.
Let your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.
As I read I began to connect the Old Testament to the New Testament. I began to see God's attributes, how He interacts with His people, and what He expects of His people. I saw He was trustworthy, unchanging, loving, merciful, powerful, and holy. I saw His promises in the Old Testament come to fruition in the New Testament. I saw His Law taken from a set of rules to a deeper meaning. I read about the future when all sorrow and pain will be gone. I began to long for that time which meant I believed it! I literally started connecting the dots and I took hold of God's promises for myself. I believed who He was. I believed who I was to Him. I am His beloved.
Who is this hope?
It is Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
Reading the Bible brought me to the place where I have hope.
For the most part I live my life with this hope. There are times when I get discouraged, when a doubt creeps in briefly, when I briefly release God's promises. But I am quick to take them back. I have learned when those times creep in to pick up my Bible and start to read.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
A woman recently stayed at my house and a couple times when she came down early she saw me sitting at the kitchen counter reading my Bible. Later she asked me about it. I told her I read the Bible every day because I need it.
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
That is so very true. If I stop, even only for a few days, I begin to feel the effects. I begin to worry. I become down. The real benefit for me in reading the Bible is to fill my life with hope. I need it much like I need food and water and air. It's the truth. I need it.
But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.
Are you stuck in "hope so"?
Open your Bible and begin to be filled with hope.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Abound in hope.
1 Peter 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Did you notice that?
It is a living hope.
And it is a real thing.