What really is Hope?
As the holidays near, you may find a Christmas ornament or a piece of wall art that reads, “Faith, Hope and Love.” Such words have become cliche in the modern world because they are overused and misused. Hope especially, has become a verb that is used in a variety of contexts. But, in an era that is fed by the superficial and is in desperate need of deeper meaning, I want to know what Hope is in the Truest sense. What really is Hope?
I hope it doesn’t rain today. I hope I get out of work early. I hope I get an A on the test. I hope I win this game. I hope I meet my spouse before I turn 25. I hope I don’t get cancer. I hope my parents will live to meet their grandchildren. I hope to achieve this goal. I hope that people will like me. I hope I will make more money. I hope the economy gets better. I hope life will get a little easier.
Merriam Webster says hope means, “to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true.”
According to Merriam Webster’s definition, the use of the word hope depicted above is correct. It can be as superficial as a desire for cake or as heavy as wishing for a loved one to survive his or her illness.
Hope is widely misunderstood by modern people. We live in a culture of indulgence. We are taught to seize the moment and to do what feels good. And while I believe there is value in finding joy from moment to moment, we are taught to disregard the ultimate future or to understand the spiritual world in a vague sense. Hope has become shallow.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is an emptiness that seems to loom among us more than ever. I certainly struggle with feelings of emptiness. From the threat of nuclear war, to division in our country, to comparing my life to other people’s lives on social media, and an increasingly secular culture, it can be difficult to grasp the feeling of hopefulness.
The modern education system and the modern American culture doesn’t seem to spend much time thinking or talking about what Hope means in its Truest sense. What does Hope mean as a universal virtue? What can Hope with a capital “H” do for you?
Hope is for the eternal.
In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis, says: “Hope is one of the Theological figures. This means that a continual longing to the eternal world is not (as modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.”
In other words, Hope is meant to be felt in regards to the after life, not the desire for things on this earth. While most of us use the word hope fleetingly, Hope has vast implications for our lives. The reason we have Hope is because we know that despite how difficult earthly life may be, there is a heavenly life awaiting us. That is, there is a heavenly life for those who choose to believe.
Hope is central to Faith.
You might have faith that you will win the game. You might have faith that you will beat cancer. You might have faith that you will finally get pregnant. This kind of faith is certainly important and worthy, but it isn’t the ultimate kind of faith. The ultimate faith is in our Lord Jesus Christ, what He did for us, and the eternal life He offers us.Your faith in this True sense points you to Hope. In order to have Hope you must have sincere, honest faith in what direction the Hope points. Hope points to heaven.
Hope provides fulfillment.
I often feel weighed down by an emptiness that can only be a result of my own failures and of the unending shallowness promoted by our culture. We are told to hustle to pursue success. And what is success exactly? It is often presented to be a hefty salary and some level of fame. We superficially hope for milestones to happen thinking that they will provide us with the contentment we desire. But really, the only ingredient that will fill the depths of our souls is Hope for the beyond.
The fact of the matter is: anyone can have Hope. No matter how dismal your life may feel, God is offering you Hope with a capital “H.” He is inviting you to live for belief in something beyond your wildest dreams. So I wonder: will you live with Hope?