23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
1 Timothy 6:17
17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
A few years ago, as my kids and I were studying a passage from Romans, I asked them what it meant to have hope. My son, Clark, said that it was to wish that something would happen in the future. That seemed like a pretty good definition. We hope that our grown kids will come home for Christmas. We hope that the company we work for continues to have a need for our position and the finances to support it. I hoped, in vain, that the Dolphins would make the playoffs this year, and now I find myself hoping that they make the right acquisitions to make it into the playoffs next year.
While this is the common understanding and usage of the word hope, the bible tends to use the word in a different sense, and I believe that it is important for us to understand the difference. The biblical usage of the word “hope” has much more of a sense of expectation and confidence. When teaching, I regularly use the phrase “a sure and certain hope.” In fact, the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines the word used for hope: “to look forward to something, with implication of confidence about something coming to pass.”
How can Christians have this kind of certainty for their future both in this present life and after death? I ask because our world is asking this same question. In fact, when they look at the Christian’s hope, the typical response is to label it as wishful thinking. It is something that we believe in because it makes us feel better about those we have lost and about our own mortality. They see it in much the same light as my hopes that the Dolphins will get into the playoffs. While there might be certain indicators that would signify the possibility, it is by no means certain and some could argue highly skeptical.
What they do not see, and what we fail to see at times, is that hope has everything to do with what you place it in. If you hope that this is the year that aliens from another planet will finally make contact, your hope is truly more like wishful thinking. Many would say my hope in the Dolphins making the playoffs next year is equally wishful. Yet, if you place your hope in the promises of the 100% truthful God who is always faithful to His promises and has proven Himself to be from the beginning of time, who has all the power to make good on His promises, then there is nothing wishful about it. All other hopes we have can and will fail us. What a great gift that our future is already signed, sealed, and delivered by God.
In uncertain times, may we chose to keep our hope fixed on the promises and character of our God as a testimony to a world whose hopes are merely wishes.