It has been said that hope is faith in the future tense. Paul wrote to the Colossians and reminded them of an eternal truth: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (1:27). The word hope is used 140 times in the Scriptures.
Thomas Brooks wrote, “Hope can see heaven through the thickest clouds.” John Bunyan wrote, “Hope is never ill when faith is well.” When our faith weakens, our hope darkens. Unfortunately, we have not taken a biblical view of hope. We have watered it down to mean little more than a wish, positive outlook, or optimism. We say, “I hope so,” as if we are handicapped and God is not sovereign. Biblical hope goes beyond a wishing well or a positive attitude.
Some of the New Testament nouns for hope include confidence, refuge, expectation, and waiting. Some of the verbs are leaning on, waiting for, looking for, being confident, and taking refuge. When you look at your Bible, the thought of hope is always tied to God and His Word. We don=t have hope in a vacuum. Israel hoped for a Deliverer, and the church lives with the great hope of the return of Christ.
The Old Testament prophet wrote these familiar words for God’s covenant people, “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13). These words were promises to the people of God who were living in captivity. Without hope, we all live in some form of bondage.
Our hope cannot be in the political process. We’ve all seen the failure of politics and politicians. It can’t be in our health because health can fail. It can’t be in other people because they will disappoint us. It can’t be in our family because we can make them our god and lose reality if things go south for the family.
Matthew Henry said, “Our fear must save our hope from swelling into presumption, and our hope must save our fear from sinking into despair.” C. S. Lewis wrote about hope and concluded that if we find in ourselves a desire which no experience on this earth can satisfy, then the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. Lewis said, “I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till death.” What both men are saying is simple. If our hope is in the temporal, we will lack lasting hope. Our hope must abide in the realm of the eternal.
While we hope for healing, answered prayers, returning prodigals, restored marriages, unified churches, the end of racism, the end of terrorism, and God to turn this world around, we cannot hold God hostage to our desired results. We can’t be like many who only see hope as getting what they want in this life. Paul said to the Corinthians, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Let’s embrace the attitude and perspective of the psalmist. By faith, have hope. The last chapter in your story hasn’t been written yet. God has the final word. Let Him help your countenance as you praise Him in your storm. Take time to read Psalm 42 and 43. Seriously, lay this article aside and pick up your Bible and read it. Look for the contrasts between the psalmist’s circumstances and his hope. He=s honestly hurting and positively hopeful at the same time.
Vance Havner, in his book Hope Thou in God, begins by referring to Psalm 42 and 43. He writes:
Have you ever known days when you remember the great revival you had been in, where you had thought you could never again feel like this? Where is that joy and why is your soul cast down and disquieted? We are human beings making our way through a world as changeable as the weather with the very next hour unpredictable – shadow and sunlight, heartbreaks and hallelujahs, all mixed with no rhyme or reason as far as we can see. The day that breaks in glory may end in grief.
One thing is certain, if the soul takes the psalmist’s advice and hopes in God, I shall yet praise Him. For the moment we rebel and almost resent the suggestion. How can I ever praise God again after this? We grow bitter when some pitying soul who has never been there recites all the cliches and platitudes. But it works…faith does not wait for explanation to begin praising. Faith does not wait to understand. We have His Word, and if it were not so, He would have told us. In the meantime what are we to do? Sob and sigh until we die? “Let not your heart be troubled…” We have control over that, we can worry or not worry. It is a different kind of joy, sometimes mixed with tears, but once you get it you know what I mean. Meanwhile we live through weeks and months when feelings fail and nerves go on a rampage; but we hope in God, anyhow, even when it seems almost hypocritical. It is not. It is faith at its best, and one day we will reach that yet when praise rings its joy bells in the soul. Some days are not easy, and you may want to lay this down in disgust. But it works. The lowest ebb can be the turning of the tide! There is a way on when you’ve reached wit’s end!
“Hope in God…I shall yet praise Him.”