Hope is a word that many of us use without even thinking about it. “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow;” “I hope I can make it to that lunch date,” “I hope I never have to work with that customer again.”
Have you ever thought in depth about what it means to hope? There is a fundamental difference in hoping for something and to hoping in something. Hoping for something means really wishing that an event or circumstance would take place. It’s like the statements above; it’s not necessary based on any factual evidence, it’s just a wish of your heart. Those circumstances may or may not occur, and I think most of us realize it. Therefore, we’re merely hoping for them, not putting our hope in them.
When we put our hope in something, we are putting every facet of our faith in whatever that may be. Everything that we are, all of our emotions and actions, are based upon that hope. Choosing to put our hope in something involves trusting, beyond all doubts, that it will hold fast.
Many of us have put our faith in people throughout our lives. It’s very easy for newly married spouses to put their faith in each other. They hold certain expectations up for each other, essentially putting them on a pedestal to which they can never measure up. When we put our hope in people, it’s going to faith in one way or another. Our spouse is going to disappoint us, our dearest friends will unintentionally hurt us, our children won’t show love. Because we live in a world where we are all fallen sinners, we will be broken if we put our hope in each other.
So, then, where do we put our hope in this world full of heartbreak? Putting our hope in people, things, jobs, circumstances…in our broken world, it’s all going to betray us. This is why we must hope in what we cannot see.
“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes in what he sees? But if we hope in what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:24-26
So what is this that we hope in? We hope in Christ and in Gospel. We believe in a story that cannot be “proven.” But yet, through this hope in our souls, we believe it to be true. We trust in God’s dramatic transformation in our lives and in his word that he’s revealed to us.
The very essence of hope is that it’s in something that we cannot see! We cannot even begin to hope in something we can see. Isn’t that a little bit mind-blowing?
Think of the great stories in Scripture of situations that took great faith and hope. The first thing that came to my mind was the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth in Luke 1. God made this crazy promise to them, after being barren for years and years, that they would be granted a child. Think of the temptation to say, “yeah, right, God.” Zechariah did stand in disbelief for a while, but after a short time they had great hope in the words of God. Guess what? He blessed them with what was promised.
Being a Christian means that you become a part of a culture of hope. We’ve already hoped in Christ; is this where it ends? Nope! We are called to be a people that puts our hope in God and his promises to us. We can hope in every single promise that he’s given in the Bible. Why? Because it’s just like the promise he gave to Zechariah and Elizabeth! His word is something in which we can always put our hope. No matter what.
Our hope is in Christ, not in our circumstances. Our circumstances may not be ideal, but putting our hope in Christ means that we believe “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Even when we cannot see God’s goodness, we have hope, because that is what hope is!
How beautifully freeing it is to be a follower of Christ and have such a strong anchor in which to put our hope. This frees us from hoping in anything that’s a part of this world. This saves us from the heartbreak and anguish of trusting in our circumstances. It also allows for healthier relationships, being able to love people as people and not being a slave to things or events in our lives. Instead, our hope is in the God who has promised us his goodness and love throughout all things. His plan for our lives cannot be shaken.
God’s promises are true, even when we cannot see them. Put your hope there.