Life, Hope & Truth

From the January/February 2020 issue of Discern Magazine

The Power of Hope

Hope isn’t a warm fuzzy; it’s a strong support and unshakable foundation. The spiritual power of hope can help us overcome any trial. It’s a lifeline from God!

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“I don’t know how I would get through losing my husband if I didn’t have the hope of the resurrection and the promise of no more pain and tears,” said Laura, a young widow. “Hope helps me not be overwhelmed by the current condition of the world—the suffering I can’t fix, the injustices I can’t stop.”

Hope may seem like a soft and fuzzy thing, but the people hanging on to it as a lifeline tell me it is stronger than any material known to man, and more powerful than the greatest forces that attack us.

Why is hope important? Modern stories of the power of hope

Consider these poignant stories from Christians who depend on the power of hope:

When life is a constant struggle, hope may be the resource that sees us through. That’s what Carol found. She said, “As a single mother raising three children and very little income, sometimes all we had was hope.”

Sherrie told me about her hope in the midst of a severe trial: “One month ago we lost our son. It is that hope of seeing him again, and knowing that to him it will just be a moment in time. He will awaken to a whole new world, peace and prosperity. I have great hope in knowing he will find his place in that world and will eventually become a son of God.”

Margaret also talked about her hope for the future. “When my son was dying with cancer, the knowledge of God’s plan for him gave me much comfort and hope,” she said. “I know I will see him in the Kingdom of God!”

Another family wrote, “I don’t think there’s a day that can go by successfully without clinging on to hope. Where would our lives be without it? Without the promise of something far beyond what we know—far better than what we can imagine.

“In my darkest trials when all felt lost, it was the only thing that kept me afloat, nose barely above the surface. [The hope] that one day, I could fully be out of the way of my own progress. That this tent is only temporary—that God has something amazing planned for all of humanity if they choose life.

“Is there anything else worth more?”

Others have told me about chronic, debilitating medical conditions, sleepless nights, painful accidents, miscarriages, deaths of children and other loved ones, and so many other traumatic situations. Only hope in God’s promises could see them through these awful trials.

“Hope in God’s promises and prayers of friends and Church family helped me endure,” said Sarah. “Knowing that true peace, true joy and a world filled with knowledge of God [are coming] is still what I cling to today.”

John said, “During a time of great personal stress several years ago, Psalm 42:8 and Isaiah 41:10 [were] personal anchor verses. … Revelation 21:4 gives such great hope for the future.”

Though haunted by the deaths of loved ones, Roy told me, “Yet hope, solid, proven hope of future lives for those [who have died] lifts, leads, carries us.”

The substance of things hoped for

One of the most famous verses in the Bible tells us, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1; see “Hebrews 11: The Faith Chapter”). Faith is our belief and trust in the most trustworthy being in the universe: God. This provides the substance—the “confidence, firm trust, assurance” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)—that supports the reality of those things we hope for.

Our hope rests in the power and promises of God. What God says, He will do. As Paul wrote, we live “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2).

The book of Hebrews expands on this thought:

“That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:18-19).

David wrote this about our Deliverer and all-powerful God: “You are my rock and my fortress. … You are my strength. … 

“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:3, 4, 24).

In the book of Jeremiah, God contrasted the worthlessness of trusting in other humans for strength (Jeremiah 17:5-6) with the blessing that comes from hoping in God.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit” (verses 7-8).

This highlights the deep-rooted stability and benefits of the power of hope in God.

God also expressed His loving intent in this beloved passage to the captives in Babylon:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Studying the promises and plan of God, and His gracious desire for us to be His children, can help solidify our faith and empower our hope.

To read more about the wonderful promises of God, see our online article “God’s Promises: Rock-Solid Hope and Assurance.”

How to grow in the power of hope

Hope is not something we either have or don’t have. It can falter, and it can grow.

We can strengthen our hope by studying the Holy Bible and all of its stories of the power of hope.

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Paul also explained a different way Christians can look at trials to transform them into hope-building exercises.

“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:3-5).

Learn more about how to receive the Holy Spirit in our article “How Do You Know You Have the Holy Spirit?” and see our related article “How to Grow in Faith.”

As we grow in hope, it should motivate us to change and become more and more like God—more and more pure and righteous and holy.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! … And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1, 3).

The hope of glory

Ultimately, our hope is not just being delivered in this human life. It is being saved spiritually and given the promise of a meaningful, joyous eternal life. This incredible hope of being God’s children forever serves as protection from everything that this world can throw at us.

Paul described hope as a piece of the spiritual armor of God:

“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

Salvation refers to being saved from sin and death and given eternal life. Paul also calls this the “hope of glory”:

“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

What is glory? Explore this amazing but little-understood promise in our online articles “Hope in Christ” and “The Glory of God and Our Inheritance.”

Notice that the hope of deliverance is not just for us, but for all of creation. Creation has been suffering “futility” and “corruption,” waiting “in hope” of deliverance (Romans 8:20-21). “Creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (verse 19).

By definition, we hope for what is in the future.

“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24-25).

Though it is future, that doesn’t make it any less real or sure.

Unshakable hope

We think of our earth as solid and stable—until an earthquake comes! But nothing can shake God’s promises.The hope of a Christian is more unshakable than anything in the physical realm. We think of our earth as solid and stable—until an earthquake comes! But nothing can shake God’s promises.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).

Our real hope transcends this lifetime. King David wrote:

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope” (Psalm 16:9).

Peter made clear that this referred to Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection (Acts 2:25-26). Through His resurrection from the dead, we can also have the hope and assurance that we can be resurrected.

Paul powerfully argued against those who questioned the promise of being raised from the dead.

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:19-22).

The awesome truth is that those who are Christ’s will be raised to incorruptible, immortal life at Christ’s coming (verses 23, 54).

David painted a beautiful picture of this hope of eternal life:

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, emphasis added).

That powerful hope will become reality!

 

Sidebar: Faith, Hope and Love

The Bible connects faith, hope and love many times (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8; Galatians 5:5-6; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Hebrews 6:10-12; 1 Peter 1:21-22).

These three godly characteristics all produce fruit. In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 Paul praised the members for their “work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Faith—belief in God and His promises—motivates us to strive to live as Jesus lived, walk as He walked. This includes obeying God and doing His works (John 14:12, 15).

Love—outgoing concern that is the essential characteristic of God (1 John 4:16)—labors to serve others (Hebrews 6:10).

Hope is not a fleeting or feeble thing, but a “desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, p. 570). Hope provides “full assurance,” thus it can motivate us to patient endurance (Hebrews 6:11-12). Godly hope is faith projected into the future.

Faith and hope work together hand in hand. It takes faith in God to have real hope, and it takes godly hope to have real, lasting faith.

Love elevates faith and hope above any selfishness, producing a desire for God’s plan to provide His blessings for everyone.

William Barclay puts it this way in his Daily Study Bible: “Faith without love is cold, and hope without love is grim. Love is the fire which kindles faith and it is the light which turns hope into certainty.”

Love’s outgoing nature and eternal qualities makes it the “greatest of these” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Study more about these big three in our online articles “What Is Faith?” “Our Future Hope” and “God Is Love.” (This sidebar is from a soon-to-be published booklet Finding Hope … in a Hopeless World.)

About the Author

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett is editorial content manager for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, in the Dallas, Texas, area. He coordinates the Life, Hope & Truth website, Discern magazine and the Life, Hope & Truth Weekly Newsletter. He is also part of the Personal Correspondence team of ministers who answer questions sent to Life, Hope & Truth.

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