Hope is the trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Biblical hope is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God’s guidance and the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future. This contrasts to the world’s definition of hope as ‘a feeling that what is wanted will happen.’ Understood in this way, hope can denote either a baseless optimism or a vague yearning after an unattainable good. If hope is to be genuine, however, it must be founded on something (or someone) which affords reasonable grounds for confidence in its fulfillment.
The Bible bases our hope in God and His saving acts.
The Ground and Object of Hope is God alone, the ultimate ground and object of our hope.
In fulfilling His promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), He redeemed the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. He provided for their needs in the wilderness, formed them into a covenant community at Sinai, and led them into the successful occupation of Canaan. These acts provided a firm base for their confidence in God’s continuing purpose for them. Even when Israel was unfaithful, hope was not lost. Because of God’s faithfulness and mercy, those who returned to Him could count on His help (Malachi 3:6-7). This help included forgiveness (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalms 86:5) as well as deliverance from enemies. Thus, Jeremiah addressed God as the “hope of Israel, the savior in time of trouble” (Jeremiah 14:8; compare Jeremiah 14:22; Jeremiah 17:13). Likewise, the psalmist called on Israel to “hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins” (Psalms 130:7-8 NIV; compare Psalms 131:3).
A result of putting one’s hope in God is refusing to place one’s final confidence in the created order. All created things are weak, transient, and apt to fail. On our own, we cannot do much, but when we place our hope in God and His Kingdom than we are building on what will not disappoint or fail. In placing our hope in God, we are turning from the weak and transient things and relying on the eternal, transcendent divine order. This is not otherworldly, but is about living a life in this world with God beside us.
The St. Francis Prayer offers both the person praying and the one being prayed for a glimpse of God’s rule. In life, there are times of despair, loss, and defeat; hope in God offers the assurance of facing and overcoming times of darkness that things will get better and we may be blessed in spite of the darkness.
People and families are hurting—war, unemployment, bullying, discrimination, illness, addiction, and financial difficulties are on the raise. Our government is divided and getting more so with each passing day. Despair is on the rise and hope is missing in action. With God’s hope, we overcome our despair. As long as we are breathing, there is hope. As long as we have faith in God and His Kingdom, we have hope in the presence of despair. Our story has not ended. We are being asked to join the grand, epic story that God is telling.
In The Shawshank Redemption Stephen King writes, “Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Hope lives eternal. Jesus on the cross showed us what it means to love in the face of hate, to bring faith to doubt, and to bring hope to despair. In praying this line and others like it, we are affirming our faith in Matthew 19: with God, all things are possible. All things mean all things. This doesn’t mean that God will grant our every whim and wish, but it does mean that no matter what assails us we can and will get through it. I have had heartbreak. I have made it through. When I let God into my heart, life is so much smoother; when I devise to run the show myself, things are next to impossible.
What does it mean to hope in God, or to place our hope in God?