Hope has been on my mind most of this month. I didn’t plan it. It was kind of a whim to ask an open-ended question and then it seemed appropriate to keep writing about hope. I think I could probably do that for a whole year and still not plumb the depths of what it means to have hope in this life and for the next.
I thought of asking how “faith” changed you, but I was really working to make my question really open-ended and thought the word hope accomplished that. Most people that answered the question could have used either word, but I knew that some readers would find “hope” a more palatable word. Everybody entertains some hope; not everybody has faith.
As with the word “love,” we use the word hope pretty freely. We hope for a lot of trivial things, hang on to hope about a few really important matters, and then, there are those deep longings that stir our hearts to Hope.
Just as biblical “agape” is considered the highest kind of love, I believe that biblical hope is greater than all other types of hope. The songwriters of Psalms frequently remind us to hope in God, in the Lord, in his Word, in his unfailing love. Psalm 62 might say it best: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Hope in God is key. It is not about my beliefs, my faith, my understanding or worldview. It certainly isn’t about me being right in matters of faith. In fact, it isn’t about me at all, but about God.
Hebrews 6:19 offers a great picture: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” A song keeps running through my head as I think about hope as an anchor for my soul. It turns out that many songs have been written using this phrase, but the one I like best is by Chris Tomlin: “There’s a peace I’ve come to know; though my heart and flesh may fail. There’s an anchor for my soul; I can say, “It is well.”
Hope in God gives me that mooring, that sense of safety and security when the tempest blows, when the waves threaten to overwhelm me. If I were merely to hope for “the best” or for material things, I’m pretty sure I’d be seriously discouraged. Even hoping for good things like marriage, family, friendships or even church fellowship is bound to disappoint. By keeping my hope centered on a personal God who reveals himself to be good, I can (almost) always look up no matter how dismal the circumstances. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (13:15.) It doesn’t mean that I never doubt or wonder if my faith is misguided. It doesn’t mean that I’m certain about every doctrinal point (large or small.) It simply means that I’m betting on God with my life and with my future.
An anchor for my soul.
P.S. It’s the last day of August, but never too late to comment. What does “hope” mean to you?