What the world needs now is hope. What we have instead is chaos that creates fear and hopelessness. We’ve got sickness, death, injustice, insecurities, division… How can we help foster hope in our own lives and the lives of others?
What is hope?
Is it just a feeling, or is it grounded in something real and true? According to the Oxford dictionary, hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; a person or thing that may help or save someone (i.e., their only hope is in surgery); or the grounds for believing that something good may happen.
So, it begs the question—where is hope ‘grounded’? Can you ground hope in a person, a system or a thing? In the 1960s, a “Theology of Hope” emerged to try and answer that question. This idea had four aspects to it:
- Resurrection-centered: Christ’s resurrection is the beginning and promise of that which is yet to come
- The Christian: seen as a “hoper” who is impatient with evil and death in this present age
- The Church: confronts society with all its human securities, and awaits a coming city that transcends cities made with human hands
- God: One who is ahead of us and the One who will make “all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)
Hope, at its human level, is the immaterial aspect of being human that creates meaningful existence. And Christian life and salvation are the “first-fruits” of living in that promise of a future with God in Christ.
Believers know that God is present in His promises. Yet for some people, materialism and narcissism have blinded them to no longer recognize God as a “living presence” that provides hope.
This is all part of an interesting theological model of hope, but no model can be absolute. We must hold lightly to models and interpretations of theology, (thanking God that no one makes it to heaven on perfect theology!). I did find parts of the “Theology of Hope” interesting and helpful to see that real hope is not just grounded within ourselves.
What the Bible says about hope
The book of Romans is full of hope. Paul says in Romans 8:24-25, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Also, in Romans 12:12 it says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
And one final inspiration of hope is found in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The God of hope? Yes. This verse shows where hope is ultimately grounded.
True hope must be transcendent. It cannot rest on things of this world. An atheist who does not believe in the supernatural would be hard-pressed to describe a thing like hope in a purely materialistic manner. What kind of thing is hope… some chemical reaction to stimuli? Common sense tells us differently. Hope is more than physical. Hope is actually an apologetic for the existence of God, for who hasn’t held out hope in some fashion during their lifetime? Hope is an immaterial aspect of being human, placed within our souls by a loving Creator who designed us this way.
Hope in God brings peace amid the chaos. So, let your peace shine to others! Let them question why you are peaceful in uncertain times; may it be an opportunity to share the hope that you carry inside.
“…but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense (apologia) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
1 Peter 3:15(CSB)
Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Baker Publisher.