There is a difference between the human use of the word ‘hope’ and the use of it in Scripture.
In the Bible, the things we hope for are certainties. These are things we look forward to. The reason for the certainty is because they are rooted in God, who never wavers. This hope can be defined as, “the confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.”
In the Bible, hope is closely linked with faith. In Hebrews 6:11-12 the writer uses the term, “full assurance of hope.” In Hebrews 10:22 we find, “full assurance of faith.” In Hebrews 11:1 faith is defined as, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” So hope is an element of faith, looking specifically towards the future, while faith encompasses a trust in God for our past, present and future.
Hope is an essential part of faith. Both hope and faith depend on God, and are therefore based on certainty.
With all the darkness and evil that surround us, there is little hope in the world today. All around us we see pain, injustice, sorrow, sickness, poverty and violence. But the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1). When Jesus stepped into our world, hope became possible. The right kind of hope.
When we trust the work of Christ on the cross for our salvation, we are saved by faith. Since hope is faith in the future tense, we possess it and it is ours. If we believe that Christ bore our sin on the cross and defeated death in his resurrection, Peter says that we are born into a living hope, a hope in Jesus’ victory on our behalf, no matter the trials and tribulations of this world (1 Peter 1:3).
Having been justified, we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory, even in the midst of suffering. Paul says that suffering produces hope, because we know that despite our present troubles, God’s love has been poured out on our behalf in Christ (Romans 5:1-5). We have hope and can have hope because it has been given to us in Christ.
What does it look like to hope, in an earthly sense? When you find yourself hoping for something, there is anxiety, even fear. We worry things won’t turn out the way we want. But hope in God is nothing like that.
When we hope in another person, we can’t be sure they will act in the way we want, or that they will succeed. But Biblical hope lacks no such certainty. It is confident and assured because it is rooted in the faithfulness of God.
Abraham is a perfect example of this. When he and Sarah were old and Sarah was barren, he believed God’s promise that they would have a son. Paul says of Abraham, “In hope he believed against hope”. He believed against hope from a human perspective and believed in hope resting on the character of God.
The greatest evidence of God’s faithfulness and love toward us is his provision in Christ. And we look forward to the fulfilment of all his promises in Scripture, particularly the return of Christ, knowing that his character is defined by unwavering faithfulness.
Despite whatever circumstances may befall us, God is for us (Romans 8:31), and he is working things out for our good (Romans 8:28).