The Matter of Hope
Hope is that essence that provides reason for living and a spark to life itself. Hopelessness, conversely, is a state of despair. Many unpleasant problems are associated with the lack of hope, even involving the ultimate state, suicide. When it seemed all hope was gone, the jailer "drew out his sword, and would have killed himself " (Acts 16: 27). Paul reassured the jailer and preached unto him and his family the gospel. In just a short time, the jailer went from utter hopelessness to "rejoicing, believing in God with all his house" (Acts 16: 34). Being without hope is most sad. Paul wrote of non-Christians, " without Christ having no hope " (Eph. 2: 12). There are about eighteen words translated hope in the scriptures. They collectively convey the meaning of "confidence," "refuge," trust," and "stay." One resident meaning is "look for."
There is a false, misdirected hope. Some have a kind of hope but it is unreliable because that upon which it rests is uncertain. Riches offer hope to many, however, riches are fleeting and lacking substance (Job 31: 24, Mk. 10: 24, I Tim. 6: 17). Consider an instance of false hope:
"So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish: Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web. He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure" (Job 8: 13-15).
The ungodly look to the things of this world, the scriptures are saying, and such matters will not endure. As a result, failure and disappointment is experienced. We must have the right hope to be truly benefited.
The origin of true hope. We read in the scriptures of "the God of hope" (Rom. 15: 13). God is the God of hope because all true hope emanates from God. The scriptures offer hope to man. "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our leaning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15: 4). Since the scriptures convey the mind, nature, and will of the God of hope, it should be no surprise that the scriptures serve as an instrument of imparting hope (cp. I Thes. 4: 13-18). Biblical love is also a source of hope. Paul wrote of love that it "hopeth all things" (I Cor. 13: 7).
Hope constitutes the environment for gladness. So many today are not truly happy. They think once they arrive at a certain financial level, obtain a big house, or are accepted in certain social circles, they will be happy. The wise man wrote, "The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish" (Prov. 10: 28). Hope offers "full assurance" and provides the strength to joyfully continue with life (Heb. 6: 11). The Christian is to, "rejoice in hope" (Rom. 12: 12).
Some accomplishments of hope. To appreciate biblical hope more, let us observe some of the things hope does for man. Hope causes the Christian to be continually spiritually purified (I Jn. 3: 3). Hope is said to be "an anchor of the soul" in that hope provides stability and constancy (Heb. 6: 18, 19). Paul wrote that for a helmet the Christian has "the hope of salvation" (I Thes. 5: 8). The presence of hope causes those who teach the truth to use "great plainness of speech" (2 Cor. 3: 12).
The Christian has a better hope. As already seen, the hope of the Christian looks beyond the transitive and uncertain matters of this world to a sure and reliable source of hope. Hence, the hope of the Christian is comparatively better than the fleeting sources of hope the world offers. However, the Christian's hope is also better in that the system of Christ (Christianity) is the antitype or fulfillment of all that went before (Jewish Age). With such a central thought in mind, the writer of Hebrews penned: "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God" (Heb. 7: 19). Christ, as opposed to the Levitical priest, is the High Priest for the Christian (Heb. 7; 8). As a result of the spiritual richness of Christ's way, the Christian should "abound in hope" (Rom. 15: 13).
That in which the Christian is to hope. The scriptures specify many things that constitute and make up the essence of the hope of the Christian. Of course, man is to trust in God. Peter wrote, "Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God" (I Pet. 1: 21). The Psalmist wrote regarding hope in the word of God, " because I have hoped in thy word" (Ps. 119: 74). We are to have confidence and refuge in God's judgments and mercy (Ps. 119: 43; 147: 11). There is also "hope for truth" (Isa. 38: 18). Moreover, we read of the "hope of the resurrection," "hope of the gospel," and the "hope of salvation" (Acts 23: 6; Col. 1: 23; I Thes. 5: 8).
Some hope inspiring truths. The Bible offers much hope in its teachings. God is presented as faithful and ultimately truthful (Heb. 6: 18, 19, 2 Pet. 3: 9). The Christian has a sympathetic High Priest, and the Lord delivers the godly from temptation are truths of great encouragement to the Christian (Heb. 4: 14-16; 2 Pet. 2: 9, I Cor. 10: 13). The truths regarding God is able to keep his children from falling (providing they do their part) and the awaiting crown of life for the faithful should be hope imparting (Jude 24; Jas. 1: 12).
The one hope of the Christian's calling. The scriptures enjoin religious unity on the part of Christians (Eph. 4: 3). In the context of unity, Paul presents what we call the platform for the required religious unity (vs. 4-6). In this vein Paul penned, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling" (vs. 4). The ultimate one hope is heaven. "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled," wrote Peter, "and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (I Pet. 1: 4).
The hope of the Christian is sure and complete. It provides all the motivation we need in this life and causes us to look beyond this vail of tears to a bright world of perpetual sunshine and bliss. The message of this hope is, "God is on his throne and all is well" (Rev. 4). In all reality, there will be suffering and disappointment here in this short life, but there is an everlasting world awaiting the Christian that will be worth any and every sacrifice (Rev. 21; 22).