Our world misunderstands hope. Often people see it as a desire for something to happen. One of my favorite examples of this kind of hope is in Antiques Roadshow. You know, the show – people bring in old stuff and “hope” that their old item has high value. What they are looking for is the promise of new life. The old isn’t amounting to much – it’s junk or of little value. They want to reinvigorate the item with new energy and value!
Can you imagine the excitement of taking something old and being given new value?! Are we any different? In our search for hope, we really want new life and value. That is what hope does—it instills life, value, and purpose into a person.
Conversely, hopelessness is when a person has no desire for the future – he sees no possibilities. In the classic movie Showboat, one character sings the famous song “Ole Man River,” where we find the lines: “I get weary and sick of tryin’. I’m tired of livin’ but scared of dyin’.” These words are the epitome of hopelessness—I don’t want to be here, and I’ve got nothing coming down the road.
More of us feel that way than we care to admit. We have that same fleeting thought: I’m tired of livin’ but scared of dyin’. But so long as man has a future, he has hope. The Bible declares:
“…fear the Lord. For then you will have a future, and your hope will never fade” (Proverbs 23:17b-18).
“Realize that wisdom is [sweet like honey] for you. If you find it, you will have a future, and your hope will never fade” (Proverbs 24:14).
Even in the secular world, when people stop having anything to look forward to, they lose hope and the vigor of life. What happens when the things we look forward to are things of this world? Eventually, they come and go. Then what happens to hope? The only future that leads to perpetual hope is that future when Christ returns, and we spend all eternity in the presence of God. In a classic hymn, we sing these words, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name, On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
But hope is not a mere pipe dream. Hope is a human response to God’s activity:
“Against all hope, with hope he believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. He considered his own body to be already dead since he was about 100 years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb, without weakening in the faith. He did not waiver in unbelief at God’s promise, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God” (Romans 4:18-20).
The essence of hope is not mere desire for something to happen. Hope is unshakable confidence, and expectation that God is actively present in my life and this world and in the world to come! Because hope is about confidence and expectation of God’s activity, hope is strengthened, not weakened, in the face of adversity and difficulty. The world sees Christian hope as foolishness and something fleeting. In reality, our hope, our understanding that God has a future and a plan, is the bedrock and foundation of our Christian confidence!
Hope is always a great place to start something new because hope is something that looks to the future with optimism. We have hope that one day Jesus will come back again and make everything right. We have hope that the way it is, is not how it is supposed to be. We have hope that no matter what life throws at us, we know the end result. We know who wins.
The holiday season is rough for many because the world throws out its version of hope—warm fires, families that love each other, and stuff, stuff, stuff. The wonderful image of Christmas we see in ads fails to live up to reality. But no matter what our circumstances, whether it’s the holiday or any other season, we can hold on to a hope that lasts. The Savior came once into the world, and he’s coming again. No matter what we face now—God controls our destiny and future. It is unshakable. No one can take it away.
Where human hope dies away – Godly hope perseveres to the end!
Chris Linzey is husband to Tené, father to the three most beautiful children in the world, a Navy Chaplain, and a movie enthusiast. Chris loves people and has a deep desire to help them live lives of faith where the Bible is more than mere words on a page, but the way we live every day. His undergrad and Master’s studies were in Biblical Studies, and he focused on the New Testament (his mentor was a Gospel of Mark scholar). He received an additional Master's degree, Master of Divinity (MDiv), in Pastoral Preaching.