This journey with Jesus is not for the faint of heart.
Many seem to think life with Jesus is (or at least should be) a stroll in the park, easy and pleasant. But if you’ve been on this journey for any length of time, you know it can be quiet the adventure. With narrow paths, uphill climbs, dark valleys, and snares set by the enemy, this life is full of impossibilities that test our faith.
That’s why hope is so important.
It takes a life full of hope to endure to the end of this daring quest. But if we are honest, sometimes we’re afraid to hope. We’re skittish because we’ve had hope for a lot of things that just didn’t pan out, leaving us disappointed and hesitant to hope again.
So how do we hope when it feels scary?
If we’re going to work up the courage to hope and live in hope, we need to understand what hope is, and what it is not. Because hope is critical for the human soul, the enemy has worked diligently to reshape the meaning of hope, making it seem fragile and flimsy, bending under the slightest pressure. The results are we’ve been conned into investing in a pseudo version that is crushed under the weight of our expectations.
So, in order to understand what hope is, we first need to peel away the layers of misconception by telling you what hope is not.
- Hope is not wishful thinking. It is not desiring your preference over your reality.
- Hope is not being positive. It is not focusing on the good things in your life.
- Hope is not optimism. It is not focusing on a good outcome, believing it will all work out in the end.
There are benefits to all those things, and we are by no means suggesting you discard them. However, we do encourage you to put them in proper perspective. While they can be helpful, they have no substance. They are not sustainable as they easily wither from the intensity of negative emotions, bad news, and stressful circumstances.
Hope is a completely different substance all together.
The source of genuine hope is God (Romans 15:13). Hope is concrete and secure because it’s full of the rock-solid stability of God’s never changing character (Hebrews 13:8). It will not bend under a tsunami of emotions. It doesn’t flinch with bad news. It does not change with shifting circumstances. It is unmovable. Unshakeable.
To hope means you’re investing in the character of God, believing He is faithful. Hoping means you are sure and certain of His willingness and ability to do the miraculous. To say you hope is to express absolute confidence that God is more than enough to meet any and every need.
Hope does not place expectations on God, imposing wishful thinking upon Him. Instead, being hopeful is living in expectancy, with an unshakable conviction that God is working all things – even bad, painful, negative things – together for your good (Romans 8:28) according to His perfect will (Ephesians 1:11).
To hope is to have the confident assurance that God is everything He said He is and will do everything He said He would.
How do we get hope?
Get to know God. You can’t hope in Him if you don’t know who He is and what He can do. You can’t anchor yourself in His promises if you don’t know what they are. Knowing Him is not complicated.
- Read the Bible. As you read, you’ll learn His character and see His faithfulness in action. You’ll see His supernatural authority change the lives and circumstances of the people within.
- Explore the promises within His word. Memorize and mediate on them until they become your reality, making them your own. Here’s one to get you started: Romans 8:32 (NLT) – Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
- Spend time talking with Him. Listen to what He has to say. Discover His heart. Realize how much He loves you. Then write down what He says so you’ll remember it when you need a shot of hope.
Doing these things consistently will bring Him into the center of your thoughts and shape your beliefs.
When God is not the center of your belief and thoughts, hope is scary and risky.
In Job 8:11-13, Job’s friend Bildad declares the hopes of the godless evaporate. Attempting to hope without God as the designer, builder, and foundation of that hope it is uncertain at best.
But, confidence in God never disappoints (Isaiah 28:16, Romans 5:5, Romans 10:11). Hope is no longer risky when we know who God is. We’re able to hope by leaning into His character and drawing from His stability, even in the face of devastating news and tragic circumstances, because we know who God is.
So, relax. There’s no need to cross your fingers with furrowed brow. With a soul anchored in hope (Hebrews 6:19) you can courageously forge ahead with confidence that the journey will be good.