Hope has become one of those words that might show up on a couch pillow or stenciled onto a wall hanging. We’ve domesticated the word, taming it until it’s become a floating, sentimental abstraction: “Faith, hope, and love… now you may kiss the bride.”
The truth is that hope is our lifeline, but we do not place our hope in hope.
Paul commends the believers in Thessalonica for their “steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Believers in 2021 need a steadfastness of hope, too, and here’s why: The bubble of “safety” has burst, and despair has found its way into the church. Despair, the opposite of hope, is even more dangerous than unbelief because it warps our perception of God.
We’ve domesticated hope, embroidered it onto pillows, and stenciled it on walls until it’s become a floating, sentimental abstraction. The truth is that hope is our lifeline.Tweet
Thomas Aquinas set forth four conditions for hope: “Hope regards something good in the future that is difficult but possible to obtain.” He described the PRACTICE of hope as a “certain stretching out of the appetite towards good.”
In the OT, we find Job stretching out toward good in the midst of tragedy. He was committed to trusting God’s motives. Read Job 41 where God reminds righteous Job that the answer he has been looking for all along is not an answer after all, but a person: a God who is without limits:
“Who is able to stand against me? Who has preceded me?”Job 41:10-11
This is a God who is beyond all equations—wild, impossible and totally other. He is the Designer of darkness and light (38:19), snow, hail (22), rain (34), and even constellations (31, 32).
There is hope in the indisputable fact that God knows you. Tucked into the verses of the obscure minor prophet Zephaniah is the great news that God rejoices over you with singing.
The Lord your God is in your midst,Zephaniah 3:17
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
This is stunning considering how much and how well He knows each one of us.
Every few years we read about a tragedy somewhere, usually in the south where temperatures soar during football training season. We hear about a coach who commands sprints in 90+ degree heat, and since the human body is not designed to function well under those conditions, a young player dies. God is not that coach.
A solid and muscular theology concerning God is the only sure foundation for hope in this world.
The O in Hope
Because I’m spending time now in the public schools, I’m seeing how desperately our children need an infusion of hope, so I’m thrilled to share an InterVarsity Press collaboration between poet Luci Shaw and illustrator Ned Bustard in which hope and joy meet. Little meaning-makers will be entertained by whimsical images and then gently introduced to our safe haven of hope, “the center of the loving heart of God.”
The O in Hope grows up with your child, for toddlers can point to the multicolored O‘s on each page while older children identify the O words and play I SPY in search of critters beginning with the letter O. Both poetry and hope are meant to be spoken out loud, so wise parents who are determined to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” will find strong support in words and images that point to the creative Designer whose faithfulness invites us to hope fully in him.
What do you know about God that supports your hope in Him?
On what are you basing your hope for the future?
May you be abundantly blessed with hope,
Our safe haven of hope is “the center of the loving heart of God.” #TheOinHope, an @ivpress collaboration between @luci_shaw and @nedbustard, invites children into unwavering hope in a dependable Creator. #poetryTweet
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