A Basis for HOPE

The middle Grace of "Faith, Hope, and Love."

What is hope? 

From Merriam Webster's Tenth Collegiate Dictionary hope is: to cherish a desire with anticipation;  (archaic : trust); to desire with expectation of obtainment; to expect with confidence; desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment; someone or something on which hopes are centered; something hoped for

All be it archaic, I see the Biblical basis for hope is trust. Trust is depending on consistency. For our hope to be in something, the something must be consistent, we must trust in something or Someone consistent. We must have consistent knowledge about God to trust in Him. Not that our knowledge must always be the same. Where would the learning be in that? We must grow in a consistent direction, always clearing up what may be inconsistently known to what is consistently built upon and known. Trust and hope are not exactly the same in our usage but are very much the same in most Hebrew and Greek words. Perhaps "trusting expectation" carries the greatest meaning for Biblical hope.

So what are the Biblical uses of "hope?" The various uses in the text of scripture come from 20 different words in the Hebrew and 8 in the Greek. Most carry some reference to trust, confidence, assurance, expectation, be patient, wait, be sure, abiding, to bear in mind, tarry patiently, and/or cheerful endurance. In the 1 Corinthians 13:13 passage, hope caries the meaning of anticipation, expectation, and confidence.

For me, hope was a way of not quite trusting, enduring, etc., a middle ground that said "Maybe so, maybe no." For others it is a way of expressing wishing for something. Hope, to the Hebrew believer in God and the early Christian was an abiding in the fact that faith in the truth is absolutely rewarded.

Examples from scriptures:

The first time in NKJV "hope" is the translation: (quotes are from the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

Ruth 1:12

12TurnH7725 againH7725, my daughtersH1323, goH3212 your way; for I am too oldH2204 to have an husbandH376. IfH3588 I should sayH559, I have HOPEH8615, ifH3588 I should have an husbandH376 alsoH1571 to nightH3915, and should alsoH1571 bearH3205 sonsH1121;

The first time a Hebrew "hope" word is used:

Genesis 1:9

9And GodH430 saidH559, Let the watersH4325 underH8478 the heavenH8064 be gatheredH6960 together unto oneH259 placeH4725, and let the dryH3004 land appearH7200: and it was soH3651.

The word, of 20 Hebrew, most frequently used in Old Testament and translated "hope:"

khool, kheel

A primitive root; properly to twist or whirl (in a circular or spiral manner), that is, (specifically) to dance, to writhe in pain (especially of parturition) or fear; figuratively to wait, to pervert:—bear, (make to) bring forth, (make to) calve, dance, drive away, fall grievously (with pain), fear, form, great, grieve, (be) grievous, hope, look, make, be in pain, be much (sore) pained, rest, shake, shapen, (be) sorrow (-ful), stay, tarry, travail (with pain), tremble, trust, wait carefully (patiently), be wounded.

The word, of 8 Greek, most frequently used in New Testament and translated "hope:"

el-pece'

From another word which is a primary word (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstract or concrete) or confidence:—faith, hope.

This is the "Hope" used in 1 Corinthians 13:13.

How can you tell if you have hope?

How important is hope. In The Sacred Romance, John Eldredge writes: "Our hearts cannot live without hope. Gabriel Marcel says that ‘hope is for the soul what breathing is for the living organism.’ In the trinity of Christian graces--faith, hope, and love--love may be the greatest but hope plays the deciding role. The apostle Paul tell us that faith and love depend on hope, our anticipation of what lies ahead: ‘Faith and love . . . spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven’ (Col. 1:5) Our courage for the journey so often falters because we’ve lost our hope of heaven–the consummation of our Love Story."

So we must work with the following to see if we have "Hope," " (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstract or concrete) or confidence."

"To anticipate" means to be looking forward. (You came here with some anticipation.) Though what is hoped for is not seen, there is a looking in the eyes, the emotions, the will, and/or the spirit. How do you look forward? Do you just think and then quit or do you begin to work in the thinking parts about what you hope for. This is where people who are damaged begin to not hope. "Anticipation" begins to build and old memories come flooding in to stop the hope because the hope is going to go to a dangerous area where pain has been a great threat. In the past you may have hoped for something special and the anticipation grew into a wonderful song within our spirits that overtook all your being and left you vulnerable to outside influences that then something or someone crushed you. Yes, it was a tough time to anticipate getting what was delightful because someone else did not go in the direction of your anticipation. As this definition implies, there was to be "pleasure" and the pleasure was not there and pain came instead. Fear of anticipation grows because in the past there was no pleasure, only pain. That person was not consistent with your expectations.

How about the "expectation"? Others may have led you to believe that you would get what you hoped for or you may have expected something because others got something or you may have misunderstood that it was right to have something or someone just plain blew it when it came to you. As the expectations grew, so did the option for disappointment. Now, when you expect, you may only have an expectation of disappointment and that wrecks the relationship(s) you are in because people will most likely disappoint you. There can be little delight when people are expected to disappoint you. Am I disappointing you now? Are you expecting something delightful and/or pleasurable. Are you confident that you cannot be pleased and/or delighted?

What about "confidence?" Yes, you have plenty of confidence. People have always disappointed you and you are confident they will do the same again. Others have been consistent in disappointing you so your confidence is very high and the only option you can hold is that they will continue to disappoint you.

As you look at the elements of this definition you can see that you do hope. Yet, your hope is for the negative outcome based upon past performance of others and yourself. You anticipate, expect, and are confident that others will continue to hurt you, disappoint you, not consider you, or take advantage of you.

Can this be changed? Absolutely, this can be changed. There will be people who do hurt you and this is a part of living in the world where sin has not been eradicated. It has been overcome. Look at Romans 8:3.

Romans 8:3 & 4: For God has done what the law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [that is, the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending his own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh – subdued, overcame, deprived it of it power [over all who accept that sacrifice] So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us, who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit – our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the (Holy) Spirit. (Amplified Version)

"He" is God. "Condemned" means that He subdued, overcame, and deprived sin of its power. Yes we still get hurt and so does God. We are made heirs to His suffering also. But we are not overcome. You are not overcome. You would not be here if you were overcome by sin. You would be dead in your trespasses and sins and dying out in hell. So you are free by what He did for you and continues on in you. So now you can see or even feel your hope begin to build because the Word has brought you new health by the power of God, Who is able to perform it.

Since sin has been overcome, you can look forward to a life. Not life without pain. You can look forward to a life. You will find the greatest life in giving what you do not have on our own and what you do have from God. He has given you life and you can give that away. That is the right thing to do. When you do the right thing, you will feel good even if the outcome misses your mark. Do not do anything for outcome sake. Do things because it is the right thing to do. Others may not do the right thing and likely will not. You can because Christ Jesus lives in you by the Holy Spirit.

So what has to change? Your thinking about the truth. What do you accept is truth? "Hope" says you can anticipate with pleasure and expect with confidence on anything trust worthy. You already hoped on Jesus for your eternal salvation. Yes, there were no other real alternatives. Except your works, family church, teaching Sunday School, being better than all the other Christians you know, bla, bla , bla. ( I hope you now know these could not work.) You may still be trying to work salvation for yourself. You cannot work salvation. Jesus did the work. You can work it out and that requires that you have hope.

Philippians 3:12Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

What confidence do you have in your salvation? That God will work out His will for you? This can be applied to the rest of your life as well. Salvation was extremely hard to come by for God and He has made a way for you. He will also make a way for you to have a pleasurable anticipation, expectation, and confidence in Him for your complete recovery and healing. Do you want to enjoy life. Get into God’s mode of thinking. He gave by His own choice so give by your own choice. Never consider the outcome as the fulfillment of your faith, hope or love. Only consider you choice to give and the behavior to give as the fulfillment of God’s plan for your life.

So how does a person hope? 

First you have to know what it is for which you hope. Do you hope for a new outfit? What does it look like? Where can you find one? How much will it cost? When can you go find it? When and where can you wear it? A bunch of questions are asked which helps to define what you hope for. With clothes, it is fairly easy. How about with relationships?

Can you describe what a good relationship looks like? Do you know where to look to find one? Do you know what you have to give up to have the relationship? Do you know when you are ready? Too many questions. And these questions are just about you. What about the other person? Can you describe what they think is a good relationship? Can you tell where they will look? Can you tell if they are willing to give what it takes to keep the relationship good? Do you know if they are ready? You are powerless to operate them and yet you are powerful in Christ to be what you need to be.

The only part of any relationship that you can hope to control is you. Jesus has made you for Himself and as you operate as He gives you strength and will, success will occur. You be the right person in God’s creative purpose and all you hope for that is consistent with His will is going to work out for you.

Do not be afraid to hope. Hope is in faith. Hope is with trust. Hope springs eternal within those who are connected to The Eternal. Let yourself go into the ever-loving arms of the One Who saved you for Himself. May our Dear Lord continue to build you for Himself.

Alligator Scars – Wherein Lies Your HOPE?

Some years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His mother-in the house was looking out the window-saw the two as they got closer and closer together.

In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother.

It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two.

The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator. Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his mother's fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved. The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars.

The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, "But Look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my mom wouldn't let go.

"You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. No, not from an alligator, or anything quite so dramatic. But, the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret.

But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, He's been there holding on to you. The Scripture teaches that God loves you.

If you have Christ in your life, you have become a child of God. He wants to protect you and provide for you in every way. But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril - and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That's when the tug-o-war begins - and if you have the scars of His love on your arms, be very, very grateful.

He did not - and will not - let you go.

("Alligator Scars" is from the Internet 9/21/00. Author unknown)

Herein lies our HOPE!!

Our hope must lie in God and the power of God to walk us through what seems unfair or even mean.  As we walk with Him, we discover His nature to be more than we can ever conceptualize on our own.  He is the hope.