Hope (Part 1)
This week I had a very interesting conversation with a dear Christian brother concerning Christian terminology in a post-Christian culture. In particular we discussed the use of the word, hope. What thought does that word convey to the non-believer? Does it mean more than wishful thinking? More than, I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow? Even more to the point, what is the meaning of hope as it relates to our Christian faith?
Let us focus on the subject of hope as it is used in our New Testament understanding of the word. There are more than fifty times in the New Testament alone that hope is mentioned. I want to look at just a few that clearly define the hope held by believers. In discussing how faith triumphs in troubles, Paul writes, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5) Here we see that New Testament hope is the assurance of something not yet fully experienced, and quite different from uncertain, wishful thinking. This assurance of future fulfillment is guaranteed here and now by the love of God that the Holy Spirit pours into the hearts of believers.
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)While love is the greatest, we must conclude that hope made the big three. I believe these three to be so interwoven that you really can’t have one without the other two. Faith in God and His love are the two key ingredients that produce hope in the heart and mind of the believer. The primary definition of hope in our English dictionary is: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out well. Christian hope does not discount problems and sadness, but it does find full expression in the promise that, “…all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)