|Hope: Wishful Thinking or Something More?|
(by Chris Long)
There is a Peanuts cartoon where Lucy 'encourages' Charlie Brown: "Look at it this way, Charlie Brown," she says consolingly. "These are your bitter days. These are the days of your hardship and struggle ..." The next frame continues: "...but if you just hold your head up high and keep on fighting, you'll triumph!" Charlie asks, "Gee, do you really think so, Lucy?" As she walks away, Lucy replies: "Frankly, no!"
Hope is kind of like that. It's one of those things that we speak of more often than we actually believe. The word "hope" is not a strong word for many. It has more to do with "wishing" than "expecting." As someone has said, "It has the sound of resignation, an inability to bring about, influence, or even believe that a desired event or goal might ever come to be."
What makes the difference is in whether the hope is actually grounded in something known, solid, guaranteed - in essence, in truth.
The reality is that, though cruel, there was some truth in what Lucy stated to Charlie Brown. If the object of hope is just some vague ideal of "holding your head high", what's to guarantee that the desired result will really come to pass? An ideal or good thought can't guarantee an outcome. They might help a mental attitude, but they don't guarantee anything...because they can't - an ideal is powerless to perform the desired action.
So is there any validity to "hoping" at all?
Yes! Provided the object of that hope is something worthy of being an object of hope. Otherwise it is indeed nothing more than just "wishful thinking."
The only valid object of hope is God - the Creator of all, including of you and me. And since Jesus, as part of the Trinity that makes up God, is also referred to as "the Word" (see John 1), we know that hoping in God & hoping in His Word are one and the same. He has provided us His Word (the Bible) to us.
And not surprisingly, the Bible has some things to say about this whole "hope" thing:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." - Romans 15:13
"The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;" - Lamentations 3:25
"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." - Psalm 130:5
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." - Romans 15:4
"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word." - Psalm 119:114
"We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield." - Psalm 33:20
"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD." - Psalm 31:24
"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead." - Romans 4:18-19
Note that Abraham in hope believed in God's word to him. Abraham considered it a sure thing, because after all, it was God who had spoken to him. He had reason to hope, because the object of his hope was God and His Word.
Likewise, if our hope is in God & His Word, that's a solid, sure thing! If we believe all that He says, including about our sinful nature and about His love for us - that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin so we COULD be in a relationship with God, we indeed have hope (both for life here and life eternal!). Without God, we would have absolutely no hope - literally we would be "hopeless".
Oh what a joy it is to know that no matter what circumstances occur in life, as believers we have full hope, because we are in relationship with the God that made us and loves us so very much.
And He can do anything!
This is version 1.1 of this document (June 25, 2012).