I love writing cards, notes of encouragement to others, or even just a quick post on their facebook© wall, or text. Often in the note, I want to write something like “hope you have a wonderful week”, or “hope you feel better soon”, etc.
Hope? I don’t know what you envision, but to me, ‘hope’ has historically meant ‘Wish I may, wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight’. For example, when I was a child, I always hoped for a Barbie (okay, lots of ‘Barbie’) at Christmas.
Something has been bothering me about this word for a long time. Is this the same sense or feeling of ‘hope’ I now use when I wish my friends well? In my heart, no. But what does the word really mean?
Where does ‘ihope’ fit into a life fully lived in Christ Jesus?
Webster defines hope as “1. to cherish a desire for something to happen”. Lately, I’ve found myself trying to avoid the word, because it feels so sub-par to my intentions. I do desire for a great week or returned health for my loved ones, but it’s so much more than that.. So I wonder how does this conversational use of ‘hope’ fit in with my faith (trust) in God? It’s a thought I have had, but never really sat down to dig into. …until last night.
As I was going through my daily Bible reading, I came across a passage in 1 Peter. It was in the footnotes I began to discover my answer. Peter writes in chapter 1, verse 3 praising God and giving thanks for new birth into a living hope. The footnotes read
“…in the Bible, hope is not wishful thinking, but a firm conviction,
much like faith that is directed toward the future.”
The reader is then encouraged to see notes in Romans 5:5 ‘hope does not disappoint us’. There, the footnote states
“The believer’s hope is not to be equated with unfounded optimism.
On the contrary, it is the blessed assurance of our future destiny and is based on God’s love,
which is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit and objectively demonstrated to us in the death of Christ.”
Clear as day.
I understand this is referring to my hope in eternal life, but as a Believer, I believe this also transformed my definition of ‘hope’ in general. It is no longer unfounded optimism, rather an intense trust in Almighty God. Because I know whether in the here and now, or hereafter, there is happiness beyond imagination, fully restored health, and all other joys I have trust and confidence in for my loved ones.
By the way, Webster’s #2 definition for hope. is Trust. However, Webster then states it is ‘archaic’. ha! Well then, call me old-fashioned, because we’re getting warmer!
Furthermore, my time in The Truth Project, reminds me that a good source is Webster’s 1828 dictionary. Here, the definition of ‘Hope’ states it is
“A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.”
Even better, I like 1828’s #2 which states:
“Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good;
as a hope founded on God’s gracious promises; a scriptural sense.
A well founded scriptural hope, is, in our religion, the source of ineffable happiness.”
So there you have it. My ‘hope’ for my friends and family is 110% based on trust in a Risen Savior. And whenever I write that ‘ihope’ for something for you, please know that it is not ‘wishful thinking’. It is well-founded on God’s gracious promises and a source of ineffable happiness.
Scripture: Zondervan NIV Study Bible. 2008.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2012. As retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hope.
Websters 1828 Dictionary. As retrieved from http://sorabji.com/1828/words/h/hope.html.
Photo credit: Pamla J. Eisenberg as retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/27398485@N08/3731924962/.