Hope is one of the most powerful influences in our daily lives. We do almost everything out of hope. Every morning dawns on the hopes of a better and brighter day. We eat, we drink, we work and we play, and all of it hangs on the thread of hope. Those long hours at the office are sustained by hopes for that promotion we’ve been waiting for. We hope that the doctor’s appointment will be just another routine without any surprises. We hope for safety, that the next horrible news we hear about devastation and destruction will not involve our homes. We hope for love, to not be alone. We even hope for that chocolate sundae in the bakery across the street on our way home from work. Ok, maybe that last one’s just me. Moving on. We hope for new memories, joyful ones. We hope we don’t hurt, that we don’t suffer loss. We hope for joy, for good and not for evil.
Hope has infiltrated our minds throughout our lives, and the question is – where did it come from? We can say for certain that it is not a social construct or a human ideology, for even in the starving corners of Africa or India, or in the war zones in the middle-east; in all the slums of suffering over the world, hope needs no evangelist. People at their very lowest still continue to breathe, out of the hope that perhaps tomorrow will bring the miracle that they so desperately need. Even in a state of utter despair, the human soul that has never known a hope fulfilled (though I believe none exist who has never had a hope fulfilled), still defaults to hope beyond reason and to yearn beyond logic. No, this is not a human construct, or something we learned to do in the 5th grade. This is deeper, so much deeper. It is a condition of human nature, an integral element of our conscience, which God intentionally designed in creation. And that, beloved, is a comforting thought. That God made us a people who are meant to hope. Why then, do so many of our hopes fail?
To answer that, we must understand what hope really is. We could call it a feeling, or a conviction, that is founded on the longings of our heart. But therein lies the cause of the failure of our hopes. Because, if we hope according to our hearts desires, then, just as our wicked hearts (that’s the nature of all human hearts) are prone to sin and to deceive (Jeremiah 17:9), the hope that arises from such desires are not the hopes we were designed to savour. Hopes can be sinful. Therefore, we end up, a lot of the time, hoping in lies and in things that will not satisfy, in temporal desires of the flesh and not on the things that are above. How then are we supposed to cultivate true hopes?
Faith is the substance of things hoped forHebrews 11:1(a)
The Bible tells us that true hopes are formed on the “surface” of faith, which is here referred to as the very substance of things hoped for. If that substance is based on the passing things of this world, will not our hopes then pass away like everything else on this earth? And so, the unchristian human world will default to hopes that do not remain, and continue in a cycle of vain and unmitigated desires.
His hope is in Jesus Christ from whose love none can separate him –
neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height. nor depth, nor anything else in all creation.Romans 8:38-39
Therefore, the Christian wakes up in hope in the goodness of his God, more than the hope for a good day. He eats and drinks not merely that he may prolong his life, but so that he may glorify his God (1 Corinthians 10:31). He works not for himself, or for his own territory and personal gain (Philippians 2:4-5), but for the sake of the Gospel, for those around him, his family and his friends (1 Timothy 5:8). His hope in health and wealth is not in the accumulation of it, but in the knowledge that his God is in control over all these things (Philippians 4:12-13), and will do accordingly for his good, and for God’s glory. His hope is not that he won’t suffer, but that he won’t suffer needlessly, that though certain sorrows are allowed providentially, he hopes to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10) – rejoicing in the glory of God. In short, all of his earthly hopes, including that delicious sundae, are held loosely under the greater and more joyful and certain hope that God would do all things according to His sovereign and good will.