What Does It Mean to Hope?

Written By Olivia Ow, Singapore

I recently bought a pair of shoes online. Naturally, I waited in great anticipation for the shoes to arrive—like kids do when anticipating the arrival of Santa on Christmas Eve. (Okay, it’s just an analogy; I don’t actually believe in Santa Claus.) Every morning, I would check the delivery status and hope to receive the shoes that very day.

This “hope” isn’t unique, really. In life, we hope for many things. Some are for noble things, such as for sick friends to be healed. Most of the time, however, we hope for far more personal things, such as better grades.

According to one author, the modern idea of hope is “to wish for, to expect, but without certainty of the fulfillment; to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire”. This definition certainly came true for my shoe purchase: The seller turned out to be bogus, and I didn’t get my shoes.

The experience taught me a more important lesson—that what we hope for, should always be second to whom we hope in.

“Hope” in the Scriptures means “a strong and confident expectation”—the certainty that what God has promised in His Word is true, has occurred, and will come to pass in accordance with His Word.

Biblical hope is a hope that does not lead to an attitude of escapism, but to the pursuit of life on a whole new dimension. It is never an escape from reality or from problems; it doesn’t leave us idle, drifting, or just rocking. Instead, it makes us optimistic about the potential of our lives as stewards of God. It gives us power to live courageously, to be all that God has called us to be in Christ.

If our hope is biblical—and not just a cliché we use “in case of emergency”—it will put us in the right gear. We will be like William Carey, an 18th-century cobbler who became one of the greatest missionaries, who said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” Carey was not disappointed: Though his mission in India counted only 700 converts in a nation of millions, he laid an impressive foundation of Bible translation, education and social reform that enabled many others to continue the work of evangelising in India.

What do you hope for? That’s important.

Whom do you hope in? That’s fundamental.


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