We all use that word often, but what does it really mean. It is more than just a passing thought. More than a pie in the sky desire.
Webster's dictionary says that as a noun it is the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen : a feeling that something good will happen or be true. Sounds more like that pie in the sky thing going on. But if you read more on the entry it then goes on to say someone or something that may be able to provide help: someone or something that gives you a reason for hoping. Therein lies the rub...what do you place your hope in?
Is your hope like that old Frank Sinatra song, High Hopes?
"Next time you're found
With your chin on the ground
There's a lot to be learned
So look around
Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant
But he's got high hopes
He's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie
In the sky hopes"
Do you place your hope in yourself and your abilities? I know very well my limitations and can work within those, but I also know that there is a God who has knowledge and resources that vastly outnumber mine. When my own efforts and results come up short, I know where to turn. In fact, I have learned to turn to Him before I even make my own puny attempts. As I look in the Bible and I study the many examples of hope, it gives me, well hope.
In Job 11:18 it says this, "Then you would trust, because there is hope; And you would look around and rest securely." The Hebrew word for hope here is tiquah; it means a cord or attachment, to bind together. God has bound Himself to us, He has bound His love to us, and as we continue to trust Him and put our hope in Him we will rest securely in that knowledge.
In the book of Jeremiah the Hebrew word used there 3 times is miqveh, meaning something waited for, confidence. Here, all three times the Lord is called the hope of Israel. They placed their trust and conviction in the God who had already brought them through so many other hard times. Their hope had been tested before, and shown to be absolutely certain and true.
Multiple times in the Psalms David wrote of the trouble he had. He wrote of adversaries who sought to kill him, he wrote of the assurance that he had in God. The word used here many times was yachel; to wait, to be patient. And not to wait with wringing of hands and sweat upon his brow, but as it says in Psalms 71:14, "But as for me, I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more."
Hope is also seen as a shelter. Joel 3:16 , " but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel." That word hope here is machaceh, a shelter or a refuge. When you are in a storm, the lightning flashing, the wind howling, rain and hail pounding down upon you all you want is to find a place of safety. A sanctuary, a haven. God is that place of protection, that asylum in the deluge. He has shown Himself faithful time and again. Run to Him in your time of trouble, find security in Him in the midst of the tempest.
The New Testament also has it's examples of hope. Two words are used here. The Greek used for hope here is elpis, to anticipate, usually with pleasure and elpizo, to expect or confide. These words are used over fifty times. Romans 12:12 sums up perfectly the translations of those words hope. "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Hope says we are to anticipate. We are to count on God's goodness towards us. We are to rely on His faithfulness in regards to His love for us. We are to expect that the promises He has made to us over and over again in His word are true. And then we are told to pray constantly; we are to confide in Him. He already knows, He already sees. But when we open our hearts and we open our mouths and speak out the deepest things, it not only goes right to His ear, it frees us from carrying that burden alone.
To me, hope is summed up in one word, one name...Jesus. As I was studying to write this, I was struck by the verse in Joel 3:16..."The LORD will be the hope of his people." Now go forward many hundreds of years and quite a few chapters and you have John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Jesus is the embodiment of hope. He is hope fulfilled, He is hope proferred.
So yes, I can have hope. Not in St. Nick or the tooth fairy. My hope is not in my own capacity, my own strength or intelligence. My hope is not in the government, or God forbid in the next presidential candidate.
I have higher hope...hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. And that hope has never let me down. And it never will...here's hoping.