In these difficult and uncertain times, it is a great opportunity to examine where your hope is anchored. Hope is an optimistic state of mind, based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. Whether you are trusting in a political party to make life better, or hoping that the stock market will meet your financial aspirations, it’s important that our hope is directed toward God, as only godly hope transforms our lives for eternity. The Bible says in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”
Jesus answered the question where to put our hope, whether on earth or heaven: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). Being rich is not in itself sinful, but Scriptures recognise that with wealth comes the temptation to trust in financial resources rather than in God. The passage in 1 Timothy 6:18 concludes with the exhortation “to be rich in good deeds, generous, and willing to share”. When our hope is placed in God, we are able to focus on laying up eternal treasure.
We use the word ‘hope’ on a regular basis, but unfortunately we are usually expressing the opposite of what it means biblically. We might say “I hope that my team wins today”, or perhaps “I hope the sermon is short today”, but inevitably there’s a good chance that our team will lose, and you know there is a better chance that ‘hell will freeze over’ than for the sermon to be short.
We need to make sure we have a biblical viewpoint of hope. The word ‘hope’ means ‘to expect with confidence or joyful and confident expectation’. To many this sounds too good to be true. After having experienced life’s disappointments, they wonder “Is there any hope?” When a person has ‘hope’ it is seen by one’s actions. The person who hopes to recover from an illness acts by getting sleep, changing their diet, or planning for the future. The person who hopes their team will win the game tunes in to watch, they cheer and support them. Their hope leads them to action.
Proverbs 11:7 says: ‘Hope placed in mortals die with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.’ The ESV translates this verse: ‘When the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too.’ This translation is an important reminder that false hope ends at death. Hope, placed in powerful people or wealth or prestige, cannot survive, and it cannot save.
When rumours of wars are raging, the environment is under threat and people are pursuing material relationships over human. It can be more than challenging to remember that Jesus is still the Hope of the nations.
To remain hopeful, we must:
- Strengthen our spiritual growth by prayer, exercising our faith, and finding comfort by reading Scripture and listening to anointed speakers.
- Look for the silver lining or positives from tough life experiences; this will offer a way to have closure and move forward in life.
- Talk to someone with a testimony of a similar experience who has overcome – this is a powerful way to maintain hope. Just talking about a situation can offer a healing experience. A doctor once said: “Hope is the greatest medicine in the world. It can cure almost anything.”
- Overcome your fear by researching the Scriptures on the situation you are facing; this is empowering and builds faith.
- Remember God can change a hopeless situation into a hopeful one. “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 NIV).
Jesus is the key to hope. Those who don’t know Him personally as Lord and Saviour are without hope. Ephesians 2:12 says: “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” When someone does know Jesus, they experience amazing hope – regardless of the circumstances and situations they face.
Rev Stephen Brooks