Hope can take many forms.
When I write to friends, I will often say: 'Hope you're doing well.' It's just an expression, showing them that I care about their well-being. If someone is ill, we tend to say: 'Hope you'll recover soon.' Or with an upcoming exam, 'Hope it goes well'.
When Paul wrote one of the most famous verses in the New Testament (Hebrews 6:19), he referred to hope as an anchor. Now, I'm not a sailor-man, but I've seen ships before. And an anchor is not a tiny, flimsy attachment. It's incredibly heavy and it can come in different shapes and sizes...just like the word 'hope'.
The type of hope Paul speaks of, is the heaviest and most steadfast type of hope there could ever be. As Christians, our souls are securely attached to Jesus - the one who sees us through the storms of life.
After all, when there's a storm in our life, do we have an anchor? When the enemy comes against us, with huge waves crashing over us, are we able to face those waves and come out smiling on the other side?
When there are storms on the outside, Jesus is the one who calms the storms on the inside.
Hope can be regarded as a passive word. Like I mentioned above, it can become a rather empty expression. But the hope that Paul speaks of is active and alive.
I thought about breaking down the word and assigning a verb to each letter:
H - HELP
Originally the word 'hope' shares the same root as 'help'. This is fitting, because when I follow Jesus, I need to admit to myself that I need help. I cannot do it on my own!
I'm currently reading a beautiful book by Glenn Packiam entitled 'Blessed, Broken, Given'. (which I will reflect on soon) In one chapter, he speaks about how
"our brokenness requires that we ask for help, that we reach beyond ourselves for what we cannot find within ourselves."
Our hope in Jesus also means that we ought to seek Him for help.
O - OBEY
This is something our culture and our generation struggles with a lot. We love to think of Christianity as Peace, Love, Joy, Hope etc., which it is. But when it comes down to what the Bible teaches us, it also quite clearly asks us to obey God's rules. Not because we have to. However, God gave you this incredible gift of the law, so that you can live a life in fullness.
Our culture sees this as a paradox. Surely laws confine our freedom. Without rules, we'd have more freedom. But the biblical idea of freedom is a little different. Jesus came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17), not do away with it. This means, as Christians, we are held to a higher standard than those who don't know Jesus.
Our hope in Jesus also means that we respect God's law and try our best to uphold His commands.
P - PRAY
Obeying God doesn't just mean being a slave to His commands. True obedience comes from having a relationship with God as our heavenly father, and understanding why we should do some things and not do other things.
My son is currently at an age where he is testing us and the rules we have. One of the ways he does so, is by throwing food. The word 'No' doesn't mean anything to him. I need to explain to him why we don't throw food.
The time we spend with God in prayer is a time to ask questions. When God speaks, are you ready to listen? Sometimes, we don't ask the right questions. But God loves you and will help you understand the situation you're in.
Our hope in Jesus also means that we petition Him through prayer and approach Him with everything we are - bruises, scars and open wounds.
E - EXPECT
Lastly, hope is the optimistic expectation that something will happen. The original meaning of the word 'hope' in the Bible is more closely linked to the word 'expect'. Therefore, we don't hope for something to come true. In our expectation, we are certain that it will come to pass.
Our God is a promise-keeper. He will never let you down. Even when your earthly expectations aren't met, it is no reason to turn away from the one who loved you enough to die for you. There is nothing more disheartening than when you set yourself up for something or somebody, and it or they do not come through.
Your heart becomes very troubled. As a result, hurt and disappointment might take root. You enter dark rooms in your inner-most being.
In those times, it is important to remember that Jesus walks with you. He doesn't leave your side when you decide to abandon ship and dive into the depths of your emotional ocean.
Our hope in Jesus means that all unmet expectations are redeemed by the one who always comes through for you.
We hope for the best, but the best already belongs to us. When you follow Jesus, hope is more than just a feeling. It is a reality in which we live. It is heaven entering your heart and soul, allowing you to share God's love with everyone around you.
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