What is hope? Some would answer it relates to something you want to happen, a desire for something you consider good. Such as, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow, so we can still have our picnic.” Or, “I hope I get accepted into this prestigious university.”
But what happens if our hope conflicts with someone else’s? Such as the farmer who’s hoping for rain tomorrow so his crops can flourish? Or the other applicants to the same university, when acceptance is limited to a favored few? In these types of cases, how much can we hope, and how much “right” do we have to do so?
No one knows. If we don’t know, we can’t be sure, and if we can’t be sure, we can’t expect anything.
If we have no real expectation, then, can we really call that “hope”? Not in the fullest sense of the word. Without any real expectation, based on past experience or some kind of well-reasoned assurance, such “hope” is really just wishful thinking.
True hope implies a level of trust -- trust in the power, ability, and willingness of whoever can fulfill that hope to do so.
Our big puppy reminded us of expectant hope last week when he sat patiently by our front door, halter on and leash attached, waiting for us to take him on a walk. If dogs could analyze these things, and talk, he’d tell you he knew what having a halter on and leash-attaching meant, especially coupled with his humans putting on their shoes and jackets and talking to him. Even when my husband had to go change, he still waited peacefully and patiently. Why? Because his doggy-perception gave him assurance, based on evidence, precedent, and knowing his humans wouldn’t deceive him. This assurance gave him expectant hope, which in turn gave him peace and patience. No need to bark or jump or give up and lay down. Just wait—expectantly—with real hope. Which was rewarded when we opened the door and took him out with us. Which will lead to even firmer hope next time.
When we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the Hope of the world, coming to dwell among us—“Immanuel”—God With Us. (Is. 7:14).
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is.9:6)
The Jewish people in the time of Jesus’ sojourn on earth all had an expectant hope that Messiah, the Promised One, would come to rescue them from bondage, sin, and death. When He came, some believed that promise was fulfilled and rejoiced in their hope realized. Others refused to believe, and missed out.
Since then, for over two thousand years, the world has seen four kinds of people: First, those who have that vague kind of “hope” that only wishes things would get better. Second, those who’ve given up hope and resigned themselves to the evils of this world. Third, those who have not hope and are trying to take care of things themselves because they don’t trust anyone else to. Fourth, those who rejoice in our hope realized when Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s promise, God Incarnate, came to dwell among us!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (Jn.1:1, 14)
Those in this fourth category can live patiently, peacefully, joyfully, with expectant hope for the best, even when things feel much worse now. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28).
What is hope?
--Based on the character, wisdom, and power of our sovereign Lord Who’s proven Himself trustworthy.
If our dog “felt” he could wait with expectant hope for us to take him for a walk, how much more should we be able to rest in that since the first Christmas?