So what is hope really?

This summer we were doing a series on hope at our church, C3 Imagine. And yes, we just announced a re-brand of our church from C3 Amsterdam & Almere to C3 Imagine. I’ll add just some images here because I’m excited.

On that last photo, you can see three cool people with the slogan ‘Hope on Every Street’. That is the vision statement of C3 Imagine. We exist to see Hope on Every Street. But to be honest, the term ‘hope’ is a bit ambiguous. What the Bible refers to as hope is vastly different from how we use it in our daily use.

What is hope really?

Our common use of hope sounds like ‘hoping for the best’. As in: ‘I hope the weather will be good today’ or ‘I hope I passed that test’. Our daily use of the word really emphasises the uncertainty in outcome. Our daily use really differentiates between ‘knowing’ and ‘hoping’.

So what is hope really? Romans 8:24-25 describes our adoption by God, our redemption, as ‘the hope in which we were saved’. Our salvation is covered in hope. 1 Peter 1:3 describes that we are born again to a living hope through Christs’s resurrection. The hope that we have cannot be seen separately from the gospel, the cross or the empty grave. The hope that we have is certain, alive and is based in our salvation.

What the Bible means when it describes hope

The Bible uses a number of different words to describe ‘hope’, each with a slightly different meaning. The word that Peter and Paul use in the aforementioned scriptures are ‘elpis’, which means ‘a favourable and confident expectation; a forward look with assurance’. The Hebrews words that were used (amongst others) are ‘yachal’ and ‘qawah’. Yachal means to wait, to hope and to expect. Qawah means the same, but it is described as ‘to stretch out the mind in a straight direction towards an object of hope or expectation’.

Biblical hope is certain, assured, alive and full of expectation

I think that description is stunning. In this life, there are many things we can direct our hope towards. Most of these make sense: the people around us, our job, our security, whatever it might be. To have a living hope however, means that we need to stretch out our minds in a straight direction, towards an object of hope or expectation that can bring life. So the logical question would be: what are you stretching your mind towards?

Hope gives certainty

It is sometimes difficult to literally put our hope in Christ. Paul describes in Romans 8 that we cannot see this hope. That means we need to be determined to put our hope in Christ, especially in a world where so few people do. But the beautiful thing is this: it comes with promise and it comes with certainty. It makes the destination of our journey certain.

This summer, we went to Germany for a holiday and unfortunately the weather wasn’t amazing. Intan put some movies offline for us to watch during our holiday, but she only thought of chick-flicks. So we watched a chick-flick every other day! I think I’ve done my share for this year. I’m more into superhero movies and sports movies. I grew up loving The Mighty Ducks, Remember the Titans, Coach Carter and especially Space Jam. Movies in which you knew the end was going to turn out good.

And exactly that’s the thing with hope. You know it’s going to turn out good. Our hope is in Christ and our hope is certain. Hope changes things. Hope influences the journey, because I know that what we believe about our destination influences our journey.

What we believe about our destination influences our journey

Hope is alive

For me, the story of hope is the story of the gospel. Paul describes in Ephesians how we are raised with Christ and seated in heavenly places with him. You can’t see hope separate from the cross, the empty grave, and your position in Christ now: one of acceptance, even adoption, born again to a living hope. God is a God of hope. Hope is found in Christ. And because Christ is alive, our hope is alive.

To round off, some results from hope. Hope produces. It acts and it has power:

  • Hope leads to joy and peace. Paul’s desire for the church in Rome was “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace”. Hope is not optimism, but few people filled with hope are pessimists. Our source of hope is God; the side-effect of hope given by God is joy and peace.
  • Faith and hope work together and can amplify each other. It is impossible to live a faith-filled live without hope. Hebrews 11 describes that faith is the assurance of things hoped for. What do you need faith for if there is nothing you are hoping for? I read this beautiful example of a father promising his daughter that they would go to the amusement park. She was so excited. Her believing her father that they would go to the park is an example of faith; her excitement the whole time leading up to the amusement park, the joyful anticipation, is an example of hope.
  • Hope is never neutral. It is either very attractive or absolutely repelling. People want everything or nothing to do with hope. The same will apply to you once you have been filled with hope.

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