Most people understand hope as wishful thinking, as in “I hope something will happen.” This is not what the Bible means by hope. The biblical definition of hope is “confident expectation.”
- Hope is a firm assurance regarding things that are unclear and unknown (Romans 8:24-25; Hebrews 11:1, 7).
- Hope is a fundamental component of the life of the righteous (Proverbs 23:18).
- Without hope, life loses its meaning (Lamentations 3:18; Job 7:6) and in death there is no hope (Isaiah 38:18; Job 17:15).
- The righteous who trust or put their hope in God will be helped (Psalm 28:7), and they will not be confounded, put to shame, or disappointed (Isaiah 49:23).
- The righteous, who have this trustful hope in God, have a general confidence in God’s protection and help (Jeremiah 29:11) and are free from fear and anxiety (Psalm 46:2-3).
- Hebrews 11:1, 6 NIV Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Romans 8:24-27 NIV
24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
- This is hope fulfilled
The Benefits of Christian Hope
Hope has lots of friends. It never lives alone. It comes with a happy company of other blessings and benefits. For example:
Hope Moves You Forward
The more you hope, the less you will reminisce. The more you long for the future, the less you will yearn for the past. Hope deletes regrets and underlines expectations. It will build you up, not drag you down…
Hope Energizes the Present
It is worth living today because tomorrow, the eternal tomorrow is so much brighter. Our problem is that we often see only the short-term problems but not the long-term solutions, which makes us more pessimistic than is warranted.
Hope Lightens Darkness
Hope does not deny or remove the reality of dark and painful providences. It shines a bright light into these valleys, however, and points to the sunrise at the end of them. But we don’t need to wait until heaven for hope to pay off. There are emotional, spiritual, and even physical benefits in the here and now. Expecting an event can bring as much benefit as the event itself. How much joy we are missing by not exercising hope!
Hope Increases Faith
Faith fuels hope, but hope also fuels faith.
As Hebrews 11 makes clear, hope and faith are very closely tied together, the one enlivening the other. Without faith, we cannot soar in hope, but without hope, faith will limp home. The greatest believers are the greatest hopers and vice versa.
Hope Is Infectious
Just as we can drag others down by our recriminations and moping, so we can inspire and motivate through our inspirational hoping. It not only encourages other sagging Christians, but it also affects depressed unbelievers who cannot help but ask a reason for the hope they see in us.
Hope Is Healing
The Mayo Clinic website links high levels of negativity and pessimism with increases in mortality, depression, stress, and heart disease.
Of course, pessimism is sometimes warranted and even healthy for us; we ignore warning signs at our peril. But many of us would get closer to health and balanced realism with less pessimism and greater optimism.
Hope Is Practical
Hope does not mean we just sit and wait for utopia to appear. When we hope for better days for the church, we serve the church. When we hope for the conversion of our children, we are motivated to share the gospel with them. When we hope for God’s blessing on His Word, we listen to it much more avidly. Hope produces action.
This inspires and motivates us to persevere to the end and to persevere in holiness:
Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. – 1 John 3:3
Hope Broadens the Mind
Unlike negative emotions that tend to narrow people’s outlook, potential, and possibilities, a positive emotion like hope broadens people’s minds and especially the range of possible actions they can conceive of in any particular situation. Hope makes people more receptive to ideals and more creative about producing their own. Scientists have found that students infused with a positive emotion such as hope literally see more; their peripheral vision is wider and sharper.
Hope Stabilizes in the Storm
Researchers have discovered that optimists “cope better in high stress situations and are better in high stress situations and are better able to maintain high levels of well-being during times of hardship.” Optimistic people seem to experience less pain and stress than their pessimistic peers and also tend to gain and grow more from trials.
There are forty-five drawings of anchors in one of the Christian catacombs, the caves and tunnels where Christians hid during the Roman persecutions. Hope was their anchor during those terrible, dark storms. Like the anchor, hope grabs what is out of sight. The cable of faith casts out the anchor of hope and lays hold of the steadfast rock of God’s promises.
Paul also depicts hope as a defensive helmet that must not be taken off and laid aside until the battle is over. That image points us to the main area of vulnerability and danger – the mind or thoughts. That’s the key area in building up hope.
Hope defends our minds by helping us to hope, but biblical hope also protects by shielding us from unrealistic expectations.
To put it bluntly, Christian hope is not the same as the American dream.
- Romans 8:28 NIV And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.