What is hope? Contemporary understanding typically identifies it as a wish, desire, or an optimistic feeling. Thus, for many, hope is a powerful motivator. People have endured incredible suffering and hardship because hope of a better future blazed in their hearts. Yet, millions every day experience profound disappointment when unforeseen obstacles prevent hope’s realization. And so, the age-old quandary remains of whether it’s better to hope and be disappointed than never hope and be spared the grief. Unfortunately, such a dilemma is all too real for many Christians today.
Understanding Biblical Hope
Painful and confusing circumstances involving suffering, disillusionment, and unanswered questions profoundly shake the faith of many Christians. Such distressed saints often choose to see hope as nothing more than a wish because the pain of unrealized hope is still so raw. In these cases, what is needed is a biblical view and experience of hope.
The primary mark of hope in Scripture is its connection with trust in God—faith. Throughout the Psalms, David writes of a trust in God that is experiential, not mere theory. His life and writings literally ooze with a palpable sense of hope because he knew how to “taste and see that God is good” (Psalm 34:8). The prophets of Israel were consumed with hope because they had seen the majesty and glory of God (Isaiah 6:1-8). Likewise, the New Testament writers speak of hope as “an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19) and a source of confidence gained from encountering God’s overflowing love (Romans 5:5).
Reclaiming Christian Hope
Thus, Christian hope is at the same time both a present and future reality. Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to experience God’s goodness and thereby gain a foretaste of our inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14). But what if our painful past makes it difficult to believe in such hope once again? How can we cultivate a faith able to presently taste this future promise of hope?
In previous weeks, we’ve spoken of “faith postures” like brokenness, stillness, and surrender and how they can help us rethink some of our entrenched beliefs and practices of faith often shaped more by culture than Scripture. We’ve explored how such postures can help nurture a more dynamic and healthy faith. Now we’ll consider how this kind of faith is necessary for the cultivation or restoration of Christian hope.
Over the next months, we’ll talk about what it means to know God as our source of hope despite whatever realities we face. We will learn to see hope even in our most daunting circumstances. We’ll learn how to listen for hope in spite of contradictory words demanding our attention. And we will learn to feel hope even when the illusory experience of hopelessness seems ever so convincing. Next week, we begin this journey into hope with the introduction of our thirteenth devotional poem, Speak to Your Soul.
What Do You Think?
In your life, what would Christian hope look like as a present reality?