Hope is a Weapon
These are words I penned 3/21/09. I wanted to add some new/more thoughts about hope so read below….
Happy Spring! The season of renewal and hope! Today Jim had several visitors and worked hard on his Physical therapy in the morning. After lunch we drove to LA for his planning session with the radiology department, where he had a mask of his head made. He starts 6 weeks of radiation next week in Ontario.
Tomorrow he heads back to LA for an MRI.
Everyday, in the midst of visits, new routines, upheaval and uncertainty, we cling to hope. One of my favorite lines in one of my favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption, is: “Never Forget. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies”.
Emily Dickinson, a favorite poet, wrote:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,…
Someone once said that a person can live 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, 3 minutes without air, but only 3 seconds without hope. (Perhaps 3 hours without a computer/phone – or is that pushing it!?) Biblical hope as opposed to optimism or wishful thinking is an amazing thing because it is certainty, a confident expectation, rooted in promise and a trustworthy God! So, we are full of hope and we are ready to give an account to anyone who asks of the hope that lies within us. We are singing about the best of things: HOPE!
We long to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer (Rom 12:12). Amen.
Flash Forward to 2017.
Today I am reminded that Hope is a weapon. The biblical definition of hope is not at all like human uses of the word. Hope is a word that can be used over and over and not used enough. It can mean anything like I hope the Dodgers win the World Series to I hope you don’t lose your job. Similarly, the word love in English does the same thing. It can mean that you love ice cream or the beach to I love my spouse. Just as the Bible says that God is love (I John 4:7,8) it says that Christ is our hope (Col.1:28). (An interesting side thought is that the Holy Spirit produces faith!) the regular use of the word hope includes uncertainty. But biblical hope does not convey doubt at all (as in I hope so), rather it means confidence, security, assurance. There is never a “so” after the word hope in the Bible.
Biblical hope desires something good in the future BUT it expects it to happen! And even more, it is confident that it will be a reality! Hope is more than just logical or mathematical certainty, it also includes an assurance based on the character and will of the person. For example, I have certainty/ hope that my son will graduate from college and I did not need to say “I hope he doesn’t drop out.” Of course I still might be wrong, but then again all the Muslims in the world might convert to Christianity this afternoon. While both are logically possible, I am still pretty confident that the first will happen and the latter will not happen because of what I know about the human will. There is a certainty that comes from knowing about a person. Similarly, because I am certain in God and his character and will, I can sleep at night. I can make it through rough times. I can say, “Hope in God and expect great things” and I do not have to add, “cross your fingers or don’t hold your breath!” Hope is only as good as what you “put it in”; when it is founded on the Rock there is no doubt! In Hebrews 11:18 it says that Abraham, against all hope became the father of many nations. I think that is because it was humanly impossible and yet hope looks away from man to the promises of God. Paul tells us that Abe’s hopeful faith was reckoned as righteousness.
So how is hope a weapon? Studies show that hope can be transformed into biochemistry. Attitude can directly be linked to how hopeful we are. In fact our attitude can lead to a perspective on life that is either optimistic or pessimistic and that can also affect our health. Hoping in God does not come naturally but the Bible says in Hebrews 11, the great chapter of faith which begins with hope, “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.” This carries the idea that all the actions of the heroes of the Bible were made possible because God honored their faith based on hope; all the confidence that comes from knowing for sure, without question, what we have been promised in God’s word as we lean into Him! Accepting the gift of eternal life means that hope is based on the entirety of God’s word, the entirety of God’s character, and the finished work of Christ. I can live with endless hope, while those who don’t know what I know live thinking that life has a hopeless end. It all boils down to this – hope is the full assurance of faith! It is the part of faith that focuses on the future or faith in the future tense!
People who quit are people who hold on to defeats and setbacks. By contrast, people who persist are people who see each experience as another opportunity. Often we have to wait for something we want. If we purchase something online we have to wait for delivery. If we are going on a trip we have to wait with anticipation. Hope is the same way. If we have something we don’t have to hope for it. But if we don’t have it we have to wait patiently. Billy Graham said, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”
So hope sharpens resolve. It pushes back doubt and despair. It attacks grief and self-pity. Hope increases victory by never failing, giving up, losing, or retreating. Hope increases as we are grateful, through the Word, declaring and worshipping, remembering and leaning in.
Hope in God is a shield in life. It is a defensive weapon and protects us. (Ps. 33:20)
As we remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness, hope grows and we are able to quiet a downcast spirit. (Ps. 33:18-22)
As believers we are called to give answers based on the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15) Hope is unending (Ps. 131:3)
Hope is to be fixed on Grace (1 peter 1:13-16)
Hope is built through trials. It is made stronger as we persevere. (Romans 5:3-5) (James 1:2)
Hope defeats discouragement. It is like a reservoir of emotional strength. It doesn’t disappoint (Romans 5:3-5) (Ps. 42:11)
Hope gives strength to repay evil with good. It acts as a shield against self pity.
Hope gives a second wind to keep going and not give up.
When I am tempted it is hope that helps me hold fast to the way of righteousness.
Hope is like a tank that needs to be filled daily. Ps. 71:14. As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. Praise and a thankful heart keeps the reservoir overflowing with joy!
Rom. 12:12 – Be joyful in hope!
As we rest in him without worrying about tomorrow since it is already taken care of by God Ps. 62:5. We can be secure because of hope (Job 11:18)