Hope is an expectation. To have hope is to look forward to some change that somehow improves our lives. And that expectant desire for improvement is universal. We all hope for something, and without hope, things can get dire.
The Book of Proverbs tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). It’s hope, that keeps us moving forward and striving toward something meaningful and significant in our lives.
Since all people have aspirations and expectations, it’s easy for Christians to misplace our hope. And we soon discover that our hope was built on the same things that everyone builds their hopes on. When our lives should be like the old hymn:
My hope is built on nothing less. Then Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
The human heart runs on hope. When things are trying and difficult, we need something to anticipate. We need something to pursue and prepare for. Unfortunately, we so easily place our hope in things that never materialize or never meet our expectations.
Hope is about expectation. You don’t look forward to things you already possess. Hope requires that we look forward to something and move toward that thing with the assurance that we will eventually acquire it.
In cultures with consumption-based economies, it’s easy to assume that our lives will improve when we earn a little more money or acquire certain things. But the truth is that when that’s where our hope is, it’s never enough. We always long for more and believe that true happiness is only a deposit away.
Paul warns of this when writing to Timothy:
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17–19).
When our hope is in our material possessions, we cling to them. We put our trust in them to make us happy. But, while things can give some happiness, it is a fleeting happiness that will soon be gone leaving us feeling empty and without hope. When we put our hope in Jesus, we are putting our hope in the only thing that can truly make us happy. The only thing that can give that internal peace and joy where true happiness resides.
When we realize how much Jesus loves each one of us, it is easy to trust Him, knowing He only wants the very best for us. His love for us is so far more than we can even comprehend with our meager earthly minds.
He knows each of us personally. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5).
He loves each of us, just as we are. No matter who we are. No matter what we have done. None of us will ever deserve God’s love, but He loves us enough to die for us, and all He wants is for us to love Him back. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
He has plans for our hope and future. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
When we put our hope in the Lord, our spirit will ascend. “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
When we trust Jesus with our lives and our future, we can then focus our attention on what really matters. We can make a difference in the Kingdom of God, rather than waste our efforts on things that have no lasting meaning. We can make a difference in the people around us that will have eternal consequences. We will be leaving a lasting legacy that will exist for all eternity.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Hope is vital, but only faith in Christ makes that hope attainable and fills our heart’s longing.