Hope. It’s a misunderstood word. “I hope things will get better.” “I hope I’ll be cured.” “I hope he asks me out.” “I hope she can see what she’s doing and change.” “I hope that promotion comes through!”
In our world, hope is more like a wish or desire. It’s something we’d like to see happen, an outcome that would be nice to achieve. Personally, I think the world has taken all of the teeth out of hope. There’s so much more to it than that!
Biblical hope is very different, very real. In the Bible, hope is the joyful anticipation of good. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.” When we dial into God’s divine calling on our lives, we have a certainty and a joy in knowing that God will fulfill that hope in our lives, that He will open our eyes and allow us to see His Spirit moving in our circumstances.
True hope stems from true faith. Faith allows me to know that even though I’m often caught unaware by my life circumstances, God never is. He’s already planned how to work through them for my good (Romans 8:28). It’s that hope of God moving in all things that allows me to move forward with joy and freedom, tackling my issues with faith instead of being dominated by them.
I heard a sermon highlighting the difference between a true, hopeful faith versus a happy, clappy faith that can seem disingenuous and disengaged. The guy said, “Phony faith denies reality and ignores the problem. Real faith denies the problem a place of influence.” Hope-filled faith allows us to know that God will show up and help us move forward because He truly loves us, which He proved at the Cross, and He wants our best. It’s a faith that acknowledges the problems, but places them squarely in God’s capable hands.
Our challenge, then, is to lean into Him. For me, that can be the hard part. I want God to just rescue me, to deliver the easy miracle, the quick solution. He never seems to answer that one. Instead, God seems to most value carving out my character through my circumstances over time. It almost always requires action on my part, even if that “action” He’s calling me to is stillness and prayer. Time after time in the Bible we see a step of faith required first before the deliverance or even a miracle can occur. Jesus’ brother James describes this:
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? (James 2:14-17)
At the end of the day, true hope in God that stems from an active faith in who He is, why He loves and how He moves allows me to take that first tentative, shaky step step forward. It helps me to push past the fear and doubt and reach toward real peace and joy. Since I walk hand-in-hand with Jesus, not perfectly but consistently, I know together we can face anything. And over time, my hope becomes my reality.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT: What is a step of hopeful faith God may be calling you to take in your life? Is there anything blocking you from taking it? Maybe a fear you need to let go of? This week, look up a scripture or two (biblegateway.com is a great resource) that remind you of God’s power and give you the faith, hope and courage you need to step forward. Read them often; keep them in front of you, but most importantly – dare to take that first hopeful step so He can show up and begin to bless your active faith. I’d love to hear how it goes!
PRAYER: Abba Father, when I look at the Cross and realize You literally gave up Your very best for me, I am blown away by the extravagance of Your love. Help me to know You more deeply, to remember that You call me to move toward You even as You reach toward me. Help me to lift my eyes off of my fears and my circumstances and instead to focus them squarely on You. Thank you that while many things seem impossible to me, nothing is impossible for You, and that even when I don’t understand the direction You are leading me in, You do. Let me grow in my faith so I can bubble over with a joyful hope that is contagious and winsome. Thank you in advance for the blessing. I love you, Lord. Amen.