Is it possible to have hope in today’s world? We live in a nation where many people no longer respect righteousness, where Christians are often being maligned and even taken to court for living according to their Christian beliefs. We may be questioning if things are ever going to change for the better.
The news has been filled with reports of ISIS killing Christians in Iraq and Syria, but they are now spreading to other nations. Even in Houston, Texas where I live, a man associated with ISIS was arrested a couple weeks ago, fortunately before he had a chance to carry out his planned attack on the largest mall in Houston. News like this can cause us to become gripped by fear.
So, can we have hope in the midst of these circumstances? Yes, it’s possible. But before I explain, let’s look at the meaning of hope.
What is Hope?
According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, it is to want something to happen or be true, and to think that it could happen or be true. This worldly understanding of hope is little more than wishful thinking. Worldly hope is uncertain at best.
Biblical hope is to desire something with confident or certain expectation of it’s fulfillment. And this kind of hope is based on God’s character and His word, not on our wishes.
Hope as an Anchor for the Soul
One of my favorite Scriptures concerning hope is the first part of Hebrews 6:1, which says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” The hope referred to here is Biblical hope. As I studied this verse, the first question that came to mind was, “What is the purpose of an anchor?” I learned there are two main purposes.
On days when the weather is good, the anchor keeps the boat from drifting. For example, if fishermen locate a school of fish, they want their fishing boat to stay where they stopped it.
In a similar way, we need Biblical hope even on a day when things are running smoothly. God put us on earth to love and serve Him, and to do that we need to avoid drifting from His will. Hebrews 2:1 (NIV) warns us of the danger of drifting. “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”
But when storms come, especially on the open seas, the anchor serves another purpose. Large ships often have two huge anchors, each weighing several tons, with chains where each link weighs three hundred pounds. From what I read online, the chains may be three times the ocean depth, adding extra weight to moor the ship. This is meant to keep the ship as steady as possible in the storm, stable so that the winds and waves don’t cause it to roll violently and possibly result in damage to the ship or shipping containers breaking free of their lashings. This can be deadly, or it can result in lost cargo. Paul knew what it was like to be in such a storm, and he described it in Acts 27:18 , “We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.”
As Christians, we may never face the kind of storm Paul did. But we will face trials of various types. Whether you are dealing with the loss of a child, as we did, or your trial is simply not having the money to pay a bill on time, how you and I respond during times of testing will make a huge difference. James 1:2 says we are to “consider it all joy.” And if we haven’t learned that hope is an anchor for our souls, joy probably won’t be our response. We may question God’s love and goodness. We might become angry at God. And unbelief can become a stronghold in our lives, totally side-tracking our walk with the Lord. But with hope based on Gods character and His Word, we can avoid this detour. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NASB), we can “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
Types of Biblical Hope
Because we serve a God who cannot lie (see Hebrews 6:18), we can trust in anything He has said.
- In situations that cause unrest, we need to place our hope in God. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” (Psalm 62:5 NIV)
- God’s Word is our primary source of encouragement and hope. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4 NIV)
- We have hope in God’s love, mercy and faithfulness toward us. The Hebrew word used here (checed) is broader than just mercy or love. It speaks of all aspects of God’s relationship with those who are in covenant with Him. “The Lord takes pleasure in those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy and loving-kindness.” (Psalm 147:11 AMP)
- We have a “living hope” in Christ, through our new birth. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV)
- We are now waiting for the “blessed hope”, the return of Christ in glory. “while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,” (Titus 2:13 NIV)
These are just a few of the Bible verses that speak of hope, but they give an overview of the subject. I’d like to close with one of my favorite songs that we sing at church, In Christ Alone.
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
Songwriters: ANDREW SHAWN CRAIG, DONALD A. KOCH
© Universal Music Publishing Group
For non-commercial use only.