Hope. Even the sound of it rings with promise and expectation. And it’s especially vibrant at Christmas.
Webster’s definition of hope, based on their online dictionary, is “to cherish or desire with anticipation.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that definition. In fact, this kind of hope, what I call Webster hope, abounds at Christmas. “I hope I get a new Xbox.” “I hope I get a new smoker.” Or, “I hope I get some new clothes.” Sometimes Webster hope reveals itself in more serious areas of life. “I hope I keep my job next year.” “I hope I get married.” “I hope I can beat my cancer.” For sure, Webster hope is not trivial. It weaves its way into all areas of our lives.
But the problem with Webster hope is that, at best, it is based on an uncertainty. For instance, let’s say a couple says, “I hope we get pregnant soon.” That kind of hope is a wish, not a certainty. Granted – you can do everything humanly possible to help that hope along; you can do everything in your power to make that wish come true. But at its fundamental level, it is still simply a wish.
And, unfortunately, sometimes these wishes – our Webster hopes – are left unfulfilled. Do you know why? Because Webster hope, that mere human wish or hunch that something better is just around the bend, is based on uncertainty.
There is something different about biblical hope. Biblical hope has as its foundation a promise. It is present confidence about the future based on past promises. I take this from Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Believe it or not, the Bible says hope is an anchor. That’s a lot more secure than a wish.
Why is this true? Hebrews 6:18 explains – because this hope rests on an oath made by God. Truly, our hope as believers rests on someone, not something. That’s why we can have present confidence about the future – because it is anchored in the past promises of God.
In fact, throughout the New Testament, the early writers referred to Christ as “our hope.” Paul told Titus that “the glorious appearing of our great God and Jesus Christ” is the blessed hope. Paul calls Christ in us “the hope of glory.” And John said, “Anyone who has this hope purifies himself.”
On earth, until we see Jesus, our hope is, like it or not, left partially unrealized. But there’s a day coming when we will see Christ face to face. At that moment, our hope will be realized fully. Completed 100%. That’s why the songwriter could write:
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of his dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
This season, I extend to you the hope of God in the pages of Scripture and in the person of Jesus. Who he is and what he has promised are your firmest foundation. Plant your hope there and you’ll never be disappointed.