You and I do it. We all do it: we speak as if hope and wish are synonyms, interchangeable words. The old Hebrew Bible and the New Testament provide a different view. We can sum it up: wish is circumstantial; hope is transcendent.
Isaiah writes that though the strong, vibrant young “grow tired and weary,” those “who hope in the Lord will renew their strength…” The word he uses has a Hebrew root (Qavah) that is related to hemp, a rope that can be twisted and stretched, but will not break. So, Isaiah goes on to say, “those who hope in the Lord…will soar with wings as eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:30,31). These three metaphors tell of lying over circumstances, running through to a second wind, and even, when necessary, putting one foot in front of the other without passing out. That is transcendent hope!
The Apostle Peter writes in a similar vein of a “living hope,” saying that it looks backward to find it’s basis in the resurrection of Christ; then it looks beyond everything to “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade, reserved for you” in the heavenly realms (I Peter 1:3,4). He then goes further, suggesting to the early followers of Christ that this “living hope” is provocative: “be ready always to give an answer to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you” (3:15). Hope transcends circumstances provoking those who see it to ask questions.
For us then, as followers of Christ celebrating advent, we delight in the Apostle Paul’s benediction:
“And now, may the God of hope fill you with joy and peace,
as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by
the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
This text has been an integral aspect of my life in difficult times and during restless nights, as well as in the joy of children and grandchildren’s growth experiences. I am reminded that my ultimate well-being is secure, and that all of life’s circumstances are connected to that outcome.
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