Finding Hope (Part 2)

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!


* “Hope.” Dictionary of Paul and His Letters A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship, by Gerald F. Hawthorne et al., InterVarsity Press, 1993, pp. 415–417.

Finding Hope

It is hard to be hopeful these days. Bad news just keeps rolling down. We continue to read of the spread of Coronavirus and the rising death toll. We hear of a rise in violence, suicide, and depression, and we wonder if this is just the beginning of the long-term affects of social-distancing and pandemic threats. We see the political talking heads pointing blame at one another, which only shakes our confidence and heightens our fears.

In the middle of all of this, it is the roll of the Church, of every believer, to shine as a beacon of hope in a dark and dreary world.

Hope: it’s such a small yet powerful word. 

We often use it rather casually. We may talk of a “fools hope;” like when you hope your team wins even though they’re on a 5 game losing streak. Or maybe hoping that they’ll have a better year than last year – if they even get to play (yes, I’m thinking specifically of my Royals).

Then there are things we hope for that are really an expression of deep desire. “I hope to see you soon!” a parent will write to their child, indicating that they will be working toward that goal.

So what are the things we are hoping for right now?

  • I hope to stay healthy.
  • I hope no one I know catches this virus. If they do, I hope they don’t suffer.
  • I hope to go back to work soon. I hope I still have a job.
  • I hope college will start again in the fall.
  • I hope my marriage can survive this quarantine.
  • I hope that the Church can come back together soon – and that people won’t stay home even after it is safe to assemble.

There are many things we may be hoping for today, but there is one hope to which we are called to share in Scripture. The way the world speaks about hope (wishing for something that may or may not have any guarantee of coming about) pales in comparison to what the Bible means when it speaks of hope. The Psalms make it very clear that our hope is in the Lord:

  • Psalm 39:7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
  • Psalm 62:5 “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”
  • Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”

We put our hope in God, the one who is faithful, unchanging, and true. The Christian’s hope is established, strengthened, and encouraged in God’s Word. Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it will come to pass. Hebrews 11:1 teaches, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.” 

So what do we hope for?

The hope of Scripture rises above the day to day wishes and desires, and is a longing for the very presence of God Himself. Our hope goes far beyond sickness and health, poverty and riches. Our hope is to find ourselves in joyous fellowship with God through eternity. This fellowship with God is only possible because He has promised to save us, and has done so through the death and resurrection of Christ our Lord.

Ps. 119:81 says, “My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.”  Our hope is in the Salvation of the Lord, His deliverance of His people from sin, from despair, from the brokenness of this world.

This is what Paul speaks of in Titus 2:13, when he writes, we are “waiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Our hope in this age, and in the age to come, is that we will see Jesus Christ; that we will stand with Him in the Kingdom of God, robed in His righteousness, called by His name. Our hope is that the one who ascended in glory, who now reigns over all things at the right hand of God the Father, will one day come again in glory to bring all things into submission before Him. Our hope is that this Savior, who died to atone for our sins, will also care for us unto the very end, and will not lose one of those whom the Father has given.

This is our hope, and our hope does not put us to shame (Rom 5:5). Therefore we will “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12).  So beloved, “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” (Rom 15:13).