Hope: Beyond Wishful Thinking

written by Rachel Vradenburgh

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

Psalm 42:11

Over the past few months many in our church family have been carrying a heaviness related to events in their lives—the death of loved ones, illness, family stress, uncertainty, discouraging circumstances, and vicious attacks from the devil.

It has made me think a lot about hope

Hope thou in God.

What does that phrase really mean? How can I make sure my hope is in in God and not in me, or another person, or my circumstances?

Thus began my study of Biblical hope, and it took me much deeper than I ever would have imagined. 

When we hear the worldly context of the word “hope,” it typically means to wish for something—a desired outcome. 

  • I hope to lose 10 pounds. (That’s pretty common this time of year!)
  • I hope to get a new job. 
  • I hope my new plants start to grow.

But the hope God provides for us is different, much stronger!

Romans 15:13 says,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope.” 

Let’s break down this verse.

God is hope.

He embodies this as one of His many character traits. Biblical hope is a confident expectation that God is going to fulfill His promises and prove Himself to be faithful. The strength of hope is found in God Himself!

When He gives us hope, we will have joy and peace. Wow! How important is that? In lieu of hope, what fills its place? Anxiety, discouragement, unrest, stress—I’d trade those for hope any day!

How do we get this hope?

Hope only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. We can’t just whip up hope inside ourselves. It has to come from God, which is actually very liberating!

Garnering hope comes through dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit, and not us at all. 

When you are struggling to have hope, remind yourself that God doesn’t want you to do this in your own strength. He is asking you to depend on Him for the hope you need. 

How much hope will God give us?

We’re going to abound in it—more than we even need; not just a sprinkle of hope, but an entire ocean-full! God is so good to us.

The Bible says a lot about hope. In fact, the Old Testament has fifteen different Hebrew words for hope, and the New Testament uses five different Greek words.

Words like:

  • trust
  • confidence
  • security
  • boldness
  • free of care
  • safe
  • assured
  • refuge
  • stayed
  • wait
  • shelter
  • faith

These all are synonyms of hope used within certain contexts. What a rich word! As Christians, we are privileged to have hope in a world that is plagued with darkness.

As I proceeded with my study of hope, it logically broke down into two types: (1) saving hope and (2) sanctifying hope

Saving Hope

In Hebrews 6:19, the writer says we have a “hope that is an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.”

I don’t know much about ships or anchors, and I certainly haven’t spent time on rough seas. But it doesn’t take that to realize an anchor is vitally important to the ship, and that we wouldn’t want to be on a voyage without one.

Google tells us “The purpose of an anchor is to keep a ship safe and secure at a desired location or to help control the ship during bad weather. However, to accomplish these vital purposes, just having an anchor is not enough. The anchor must be solid, dependable, and used properly.”

Praise God that, as His children, we have that “Anchor.”

It’s a terrible thing for people whose hope is in the things of this world: fame, a false religion, riches, or good works. Ephesians 2:12 says this is the same as having no real hope—“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.

If you don’t have God, you don’t have hope. 

There were two famous men who died in 1899. Both were widely respected, although for very different reasons. The first man was Robert Ingersoll, an American lawyer who was agnostic. He was well-educated and traveled all over the world giving lectures on why there was no evidence of God. Upon his death, his wife and children were so distraught that they wouldn’t allow his body to be removed from the home until it had deteriorated to the point of being a health hazard. They had no hope.

The other man was evangelist D.L. Moody, who lacked a decent education having only gone to school through fifth grade. But on his deathbed, Moody triumphantly exclaimed, “Earth recedes, Heaven opens before me! If this is death, it is sweet. This is my triumph; this is my coronation. It is glorious!”

My hope is Jesus
The anchor of my soul,
The ruler of this universe,
The One who’s in control.
He saved me, and He will keep me till the end.
The rock of my salvation – on Christ I will depend.
My hope is Jesus! 

My Hope is Jesus, Majesty Music

Because we have this saving hope, we can also have…

Sanctifying Hope

First Thessalonians parallels the verses in Ephesians about the Christian armor. Here, Paul tells us to put on “an helmet, the hope of salvation” (I Thess. 5:8).

Why would we need the hope of salvation to be our helmet? Because many of the battles we fight are in our minds.

Satan tries to crush our spirits with doubts:
“You aren’t good enough for God to save.”
“How can God forgive when you keep sinning and sinning and sinning?”
“God has to be so angry with you.”
“If God really loved you, He wouldn’t let this happen.”
“How can you think (or do) that and be a Christian?” 

But God says we are to wear our helmets so we won’t succumb to Satan’s deception.

Just as Christian from Pilgrim’s Progress realized he had the key called Promise when locked in Doubting Castle, so we also have promises of hope from God

What are some of these promises:

  1. Forgiveness of sin (Psalm 78:38, Lamentations 3:17-29)
  2. Care and concern (Isaiah 46:4, Matthew 6:26-34)
  3. Protection (Psalm 46, Psalm 91)
    * The words “refuge” and “trust” can both be defined as hope.
  4. Guidance and direction (Jeremiah 29:11)
  5. Peace and joy

Revisiting a verse from earlier, Romans 15:13, God is going to fill us with joy and peace if we believe that He is hope. What a blessed promise! 

So whatever you are facing today, have hope.

God is our hope, and we can rest in Him.

Come join us!

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About Friendship Baptist Church

Our purpose is to make much of our Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel through the preaching of His Word and the making of disciples. At Friendship Baptist Church (FBC) we teach the Bible in order to facilitate spiritual growth in all of God’s people and to provide opportunities for Christian fellowship. God has graciously used Friendship to further His work both locally and across the globe since 1965.