When You Need Real Hope

Originally published Friday, 16 September 2016.

Do you ever wonder about the words we use, what they really mean, and why we use them? Take hope for example. People often use the word hope to mean something like a wish. "I hope you feel better." "I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow." "I hope we get home on time." Such a definition has no power. It's like sending someone happy thoughts, as though our thoughts alone could do anything to heal a person or hold back the rain or make the roads free from traffic. 

Often, our hopes let us down. We hope for dreams to come true and they crash to the earth, shattered into pieces. We hope for a better day today than the one we had yesterday, only to find that we are living out the 90's classic, Groundhog Day. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The Bible, however, uses the word hope in a more certain and concrete way. Not as a wish but as though hope is a real thing. As though it is tangible, like something we can grasp. And like it is a foregone conclusion.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." (Romans 15:13)

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope" (1 Timothy 1:1)

"To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)

"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain" (Hebrews 6:19)

Hope isn't a wish. It isn't a strong feeling sent out into the universe that boomerang's back with our desires met. Hope is a person: Jesus Christ.

Jesus is our hope because only he accomplished what we could not do. He lived a perfect righteous life. He bore the weight of our sins upon the cross, suffered, and died. As the perfect Son of God, he defeated death and rose triumphantly from the grave. He proved in his life, death, and resurrection that he alone is our hope. 

As the hold hymn goes:

"My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness. 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, 
but wholly lean on Jesus' name." 

Christ gives us hope both now in the present and also in the future. We have this hope with us now, through the work of his Spirit in us. All that Christ is and all that he has done gives us hope in our daily life as we live out the realities of the gospel each day. We also have a future hope that awaits us and is the final installment of all that Christ purchased for us at the cross. Life eternal. Heaven. Perfection. No more sorrow, tears, or brokenness. Joy forever and ever. 

When the rough winds of trial blow into our lives, Christ is our hope. When the uncertainties of life in a fallen world threaten to drown us, Christ is our hope. When we are overwhelmed and feel helpless over our sin, Christ is our hope. When temptations encircle us from every side, Christ is our hope. Christ is our hope in all things.

"His oath, his covenant, his blood
supports me in the whelming flood. 
When all around my soul gives way, 
he then is all my hope and stay."

So when we as believers use the word hope, it's not a positive or happy thought. It's not a wish we say while crossing our fingers. It's not a desire or dream that flutters just out of reach. Our hope is an anchor we can grip and cling to. It is real, lasting, sure, and secure. It is our Savior, Jesus Christ.