Have you ever spoken with a friend and the conversation lent itself to such phrases as, “I sure hope so,” or “No, not as I had hoped,” or “Don’t get your hopes up”? Of course you have. These are everyday phrases that we all have used without thought. In each, the word hope has a tone. An audible inflection that assists with the speaker’s meaning. The Bible references hope in multiplicity, but do our common uses of “hope” match biblical interpretation? Do any of these inflections align with biblical hope? Over the next several weeks, I want to discuss the biblical definition of hope, its outlook, its outcome and its application to our lives. I will start today with part one of the definition and focus on hope’s outlook and how maintaining a good perspective is challenging yet hope grows and increases.
Psalm 33:18-22 begins, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.” The discourse goes on in verses 19-21 speaks of God’s deliverance, sustenance, help and protection coming to those who trust in his name. The word trust is another Hebrew word for hope. This passage ends, “Let thy mercy, O Lord be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” The Strong’s Greek and Hebrew dictionary of the Bible says that in this passage hope refers to waiting, being patient, tarrying, staying and expecting. In other words, if hope is in operation, the recipient patiently waits with expectation until their manifestation comes.
Current culture views hope as something nearer fantasy than reality. Modern hope has a “genie is a bottle” connotation. Make three wishes and everything is perfect. Although no one on the planet possesses a genie in a bottle, we keep making wishes, thinking “Genie” is bringing answers. Therefore, when viewing society at its worst, despair, distrust, despondency, depression and disbelief overflow. We become hopeless simply because we didn’t have our hope in a proper perspective.
Biblical hope is not wishing for something to happen or change. Bible hope is a persistent expectation. It’s an expectation that sees the answer before it’s visible in the natural world. The recipient not only believes what they’re expecting will happen, there is an inward certainty, a persistent, firmly planted knowing that their expectation will manifest. Of the 26 times the Psalmists use the word hope, 18 are this form of patient, expectant waiting. The psalmist is stressing the point to us that we are required to actively expect while we patiently wait. There is no promise of good for passivity.
In Hebrews 6:13-19 when God made promises to Abraham, Abraham “patiently endured” to obtain the promise. In the Strong’s Greek and Hebrew dictionary this patient endurance is not losing heart, having patient perseverance, and carries a sense of bravery. Abraham was actively involved in the outcome of good he received. In verses 18-19, the writer says, “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.”
Although Abraham had a promise, he was active in enduring (brave expectant perseverance) until the manifestation arrived. The writer reveals that it’s impossible for God to lie. So, those of us who have run to the Lord for refuge and laid hold of the hope He offers, have a sure, steadfast anchor for our souls. The Lord will do what He has promised. That alone is reason enough to have hope.
Hope’s outlook is not pessimistic, downcast or defeated. It doesn’t align itself with the current culture of naysayers touting impossibility, inability and insecurity. Biblical hope views its surroundings through the eyes of expectation. It anticipates God showing up with goodness, deliverance, sustenance, protection, help and provision. The expectation of blessing and goodness brings Hebrews 11:1 to mind. It says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Although the Old and New Testaments were written in different languages, the word “hope” here in Hebrews 11 is defined as expect, trust, anticipation and expectation. It’s almost the same as “hope” in Psalm 33. The writer’s are stressing that hope looks through the eyes of faith. It sees what isn’t visible to natural eyes. According to Hebrews 11:27, Moses endured “seeing him who is invisible.” The word endured connects to steadfast patience, in other words firmly anchored hope.
Abraham, Moses and the psalmist all faced challenges in their expectations. They didn’t allow the challenges they faced to sideline them. They persevered and prevailed. They stood steadfast in patience. Abraham walked away from his home, kin and culture to pursue a promise from a God and remained focused on its outcome. The psalmist faced death, famine, and destruction but remained focused on rejoicing in the Lord. Moses forsook his adopted family and their culture. He faced the wrath of the Egyptian government’s leadership and abandoned familiarity and comfort. These challenges didn’t dampen their perspectives. Rather, it heightened them. This is because they all focused on that which was invisible, the word of God. They put their trust in something higher, surer and more stable, more powerful than their situation. Therefore, they hoped, they expected, God’s word to come to pass.
Today, our world seems dark, dismal and distressing to many. However, Scripture tells us that the word of the Lord created the heavens and earth in Psalm 33:6 & Hebrews 11:3. We have the same opportunity to hope in the Lord who made the heavens and earth. Jeremiah 17:7 & 8, encourages us that the man who trusts in the Lord and “whose hope the Lord is,” has a guarantee in Scripture, that he will be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out roots by the river. That tree will not experience drought or heat when it comes. Its leaves won’t wilt, or fade and it won’t stop producing fruit. Production didn’t even slow down. Why? The man had placed his trust, his bold confidence, in the Lord.
In recent days, Regent University has commissioned the class of 2021 into Christian service around the world. Many are gazing into the future with the expectation of wonderful things. We know attacks of discouragement will come, but remember, we are expecting God’s goodness and blessing in the end for the righteous. We are looking with an eternal perspective toward the future with the expectation of good. Remember, we aren’t looking to man, but to the Lord as provider, deliver, protector and helper. He is faithful to His promise.
* All Scripture taken from King James Version