What is Hope?

Hope.

What is it really? We’ve all said it. We’ve all used the word…sometimes with great passion and in other times amidst great disappointment.

“I hope I get this job!”
“I hope you have a good day!”
“I hope we win the game!”

“That was my only hope.”
“I had really hoped this would be different.”
“I feel like I have no hope.”

But really, what is hope?

At the beginning of 2016 I found myself in a difficult place. Coming off of a particularly hard season, but not yet realizing I was on the brink of a very different type of difficult—a beautiful, freeing, messy, hard work, healing type of difficult—I found myself in a place where I felt like I was constantly gasping for air. I was tired. I was depleted. I lacked any confidence that things would actually change, and I felt like I was suffocating, fearful of so many things.

And yet, in the middle of the outward and inward chaos, there was whispered on my heart the word “hope.” I didn’t really know what to do with it, and to be honest, it seemed unobtainable. But, in His gentle persistence, the Holy Spirit never let that word get too far away.

As I began counseling and a season of deep personal healing, God gave me a promise through His Word that became my lifeline, my go-to, my reference point during a very challenging time. Lamentations 3:19-24 (NIV).

19 “I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.”

In the New Living Translation (NLT), verse 20 says, “Yet, I still dare to hope.” In the midst of feeling like I was constantly gasping for air, and in the midst of a healing process that, though healthy, was one of the most challenging things I’ve experienced, the Holy Spirit gently reached in and assured me that it was ok to “still dare to hope.”

The promises in this passage breathed life into my soul. And, as I continue to move forward, these promises only get sweeter. They have become the truth that fuels my passion for seeing others realize that they, too, can have this life-saving hope.

So, again, what is hope?

According to Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary, hope is defined as “someone or something that gives you a reason for hoping and on which hopes are centered; a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” To hope is “to cherish a desire with anticipation; to expect with confidence, to trust.”

In the first two verses from this passage from Lamentations, we get a glimpse into the author’s struggle. In verse 21, though, we see the beautiful word, “yet.” The struggles are still present. They don’t suddenly disappear. The hope doesn’t eradicate the pain. YET, it speaks to us in the middle of it. It walks through the thick of it with us. No matter where we find ourselves in life and no matter what we are facing, we have a reason to hope. You and I? We have someone—Jesus, and something—His great love, that gives us a true reason and place in which to have hope…a true reason and place in which to place our trust.

In Hebrews 6 we are shown the certainty of God’s promises. It says that God did this by confirming His oath so that, “we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (vs 18-19)

The Greek word used here for “fled” is “katapheugo” which means to flee for refuge. This hope, found in Jesus and because of His great love, is a hope that we can take refuge in. In Jesus we have a hope in which we can confidently place our trust. It’s not situational. There’s no ebb and flow to it. It is constant because He is constant. It is unchangeable because He is unchanging.

I have a huge piece of wall art in our bedroom that hangs above our bed. It says, “Hope changes everything.”

This hope we have? It’s a hope you and I can take refuge in, be encouraged by, and confidently trust. This hope, is Jesus…

…and Jesus changes everything.

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