How often in the day do you say “I hope that ….” to someone? At a recent bible study the presenter suggested that we have become very casual with our use of the word hope.
“I hope that I win the lottery.” Is that a real expectation? It shouldn’t be as the statistical odds are lousy. Or am I saying there’s not really a chance but it would be nice if it happened. (Actually, I don’t think that’s true but that’s another issue.)
“I hope the traffic light stays green until I get to it”. Yes, it would be nice but the traffic lights are on scheduled timings and the change will happen at the appointed time regardless of my hope. Again, it would be nice if it happened but my hope makes no difference.
“I hope you haven’t caught the flu.” Well it would be nice if you didn’t but it has far more to do with whether you washed your hands after you met someone with flu than whether I hoped. My hope makes no difference at all.
So is the hope that Christians have a wishy-washy “that would be nice” kind of hope with no real expectation behind it or does it have some bite?
In Romans 4:18 it says “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” It made no sense for Abraham to believe that his elderly wife would give him a son but he trusted in God’s promise – he hoped – and God responded by making him the father of nations.
In Romans 5:1-3 it says “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
There is nothing wishy-washy about this hope. This hope is something that we can stand on not because of anything we have done but because God has done it all through the facts of the Easter story – the death and resurrection of Jesus. For many people it makes no sense to believe this but for those of us with hope and its close ally faith, it may not make sense but we’re going to believe it anyway. Because for us, nothing else comes close to making as much sense of the world as hope does. It provides us with backbone when times are tough because we have faith our good God is beside us. It gives us a quiet certainty when people are mocking our beliefs. It gives us a rumbling joy through all that we meet because we have faith (hope) that there is so much more to come.
I hope you will have a day full of Easter HOPE!
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