Initially, I wanted to call this post God is Hope, but dangit, that’s not a phrase I could find anywhere in the Bible. None of the authors of the Good Book declare that ‘God is hope’ in the same way that 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love.
And as frustrating as that is for the Disciplehood Team as we strive for parallelism in the titles of the 40 Simple Truths posts, it makes sense, doesn’t it? 1 Corinthians 13, the passage I keep returning to in this series, concludes with the line, ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’
Now, the fact that the Bible doesn’t explicitly contain the words God, is and hope, arranged consecutively, doesn’t necessarily mean the statement is patently false. But I think it’s best not to deliberately extrapolate too much from the text; instead, we should try to stick to what it actually says.
So what does the Bible actually say about hope? Glad you asked!
Hmm. That doesn’t sound at all like the hope I know.
The earthly version of hope isn’t much more than a synonym for ‘wish’, is it? ‘I wish the Flames would win the Stanley Cup this year’ isn’t much less pie-in-the-sky than ‘I hope the Flames win the Cup’, is it? (Especially this year.)
Earthly hope is fragile and timid. It has to be, because we can’t afford to invest too much of ourselves in earthly hope or we’ll end up devastated when our hopes are dashed (as they all-too-frequently are). So human hope is, frankly, a little pathetic.
But heavenly hope is anything but. According to Bible.org, the word ‘hope’ in Scripture means ‘a strong confidence or expectation.’ Biblical hope is more like faith, or trust. Wish is a very distant cousin, at best.
Biblical hope is powerful.
God gives hope, and when we choose to claim it and abide in that hope – to give our troubles and struggles and doubts to Him – one of three things will happen:
- God will give us what we hope for.
- God will give us more than we hope for.
- God won’t give us what we hope for, but only because it’s His will to give us something else – and His will for us can only be the best thing for us.
But regardless of which of these alternatives comes our way, we’re purified and filled with all joy and peace; we’re given rest, and have a clearer sense of God’s unfailing love and our full redemption – so maybe the outcome won’t matter all that much.
It almost makes me wonder if the primary purpose of the hope God provides is to help free us from our need to have the thing we hope for.
Now, I’m not saying I know how to fully and consistently tap into that kind of hope. But I have hope that I will soon.
(Heavenly hope, that is.)
Peace be with you.