A couple weeks ago I wrote here about finding hope in the midst of troubling times. This is one of the great joys of the Christian faith, knowing and sharing with others the hope of God’s promises, and finding the comfort and strength of our living hope in Jesus Christ.
After I read and posted that article, I realized that most of the scripture I quoted came from Paul’s letters. Wanting to dig a little deeper, I turned to a Dictionary. Now before you think that I’ve taken the quick-train to Nerdville, this is a rather particular Dictionary. It is the “Dictionary of Paul and His Letters,” edited by Gerald Hawthorne and Ralph Martin, published by Intervarsity Press.* The Dictionary provides in-depth articles that focus on key topics (like hope), individual theological themes (such as law or the resurrection), and greater theological topics (such as Christology and eschatology). It is an excellent resource for pulling together all of Paul’s writings to see how particular ideas and themes are addressed by the apostle.
Below is an excerpt from the entry on Hope. I think this states, much more clearly and succinctly, what I was trying express before.
Hope in the OT
In the OT hope is closely related to the character of God. Those who hope in God, trust god and his promises. Because God is the hope of the righteous, they can expect good things from God and wait patiently forks help and deliverance. This patient hope is firmly anchored in the history and narrative of Scripture. The God who has fulfilled his promises to Israel in the past will continue to be faithful in the present and future. Hope that does not place its trust in God is false hope which God will eventually overthrow.
Hope in God in the present is also a hope in God’s future eschatological intervention which will put an end to all earthly distress. This eschatological hope expressed itself as a conviction that all of history was in God’s hands and that God would fulfill his promise toe establish David’s throne forever. This aspect of Israel’s hope gave rise to the messianic expectation of the OT, apocalyptic literature and the idea of the resurrection of the dead. The messianic age was seen as a time when Israel’s hope in God’s promises would be fulfilled, the kingdom of God would be given to the saints and the hopes of the ungodly would be destroyed by God’s judgment.
The Ground of Hope:
Paul understands Christian hope as a fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel… Christian hope is directed to the same God who fulfilled his promise to Abraham and who raised Jesus from the dead. What God has done in Christ gives Christians a far greater reason to hope than Abraham had. Christ is the faithful fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham; now even the Gentiles can be justified by faith and included in the promise.
Living in Hope:
Christians live in the time between the resurrection of Christ and the ultimate realization of the kingdom of God. They live in hope because God’s promises in Christ often stand in contradiction to the reality around them… The reality of Christian hope is based on two things: the reality of God’s victory over evil in the death and resurrection of Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Hope is the source of present strength for believers because it is grounded in what God has done in Christ, is experienced in the power of the Spirit and moves toward the glory that is to be revealed.
Hope for the Future
The future Christians anticipate is a consummation of activity that began in Christ’s death and resurrection and continues in the present experience of the Spirit. The object of Christian hope is the coming manifestation of Christ. What is now the ground of Christian hope will then be fully manifested.
Don’t lose hope. Keep returning to the promises of God. See how they have been so wondrously confirmed in Jesus Christ our Lord, who is God’s “Yes” and “Amen.” Resting in God’s faithfulness, be filled with hope!