A hope and a wish are two very different things. And yet, I occasionally catch myself using the two words interchangeably, like this:
“I wish I could travel easier this year.”
“I hope my family gets to fly over soon.”
“How I wish the pandemic would just end.”
“Man, I hope the vaccines work so there won’t be another lockdown.”
It can sometimes feel like my hopes and wishes lack … conviction. Like hopefully something good will happen, but I’m not putting a lot of stock in it in case it doesn’t materialise.
However, hope as defined in the Bible is not merely a fleeting fancy or wishful thinking. Our hope is very much alive, built on a sure and strong foundation: Jesus’s triumph over death, purposed and promised by God (Hebrews 6:17-20).
So, how does knowing Christ, our Living Hope, shape the way we live day to day? Here are three ways.
1. Hope sets our mind on heaven
I can be tempted to place my hope and security in relationships, career, and a comfortable lifestyle. But I know they are only temporary, and do not fully satisfy. Whenever I find myself holding too tightly to these earthly things, I ask God to help me look up daily, count my blessings, and use each day wisely to care for His concerns.
We all hope for something, whether it’s for a fulfilling job, a kind boss, healing for a loved one—to name a few. Naturally, our hopes tend to revolve around our circumstances, whether it’s to gain what we don’t have, or to change the conditions we’re in.
It is never pleasant to feel like we are missing out, or to endure challenges like financial stress, broken relationships, and poor health, and we inevitably experience these trials because of sin (Romans 8:20-22). But more than that, our unfulfilled hopes remind us that this life is temporary (James 4:14), and there is something of greater and lasting worth beyond this lifetime.
Having Jesus in our lives makes every difference because He not only died for us, He also made us new—giving us new hearts and minds that can be set on things above (Colossians 3:1-4). Rather than let our earthly experiences and possessions become our be-all and end-all, Jesus invites us to replace our unsettled and distracted hearts with faith and hope in Him, confident that He will return to bring us to our true home in heaven (John 14:1-3).
Until He comes again, let us keep a heavenly mindset and ask for His help to focus our attention and affection. Hoping in God steers us away from storing up perishable earthly treasures and towards desires for things above (Matthew 6:19-21).
2. Hope teaches us humility and perseverance
Whenever we face challenges, we often cling to comforting verses such as John 16:33, “Take heart! I have overcome the world”, and John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” My personal favourite is Psalm 23:1-3, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”
Indeed, these timeless verses have kept us afloat through the storms and squalls of life, teaching us to hope in His unchanging love and promises.
Even as we hold onto these words, perhaps, silently in our hearts, we still hope that God would remove our difficulties or at least shorten the duration of our trials. Throughout my dad’s battle with cancer, I have regularly prayed: “Lord, have mercy upon my family, and take away our trouble. If it is Your will, please heal my father and grant him many more days with us.”
Of course, we can always bring our fears before God and commit every concern to Him (1 Peter 5:7). But our hope in God is not dependent on getting the outcome we desire or becoming free of hardship.
This is what sets the Christian hope apart: hoping in God means embracing Christ’s posture of humility and surrender to God’s plans. This is only possible when we trust in God’s character: that He is good and has our welfare at heart (Matthew 6:31-34).
Although I knew this truth, my hope flagged and flailed whenever the uncertainty of dad’s health weighed heavily on my heart. Yet the way my dad continued to hope in God, even while undergoing treatment upon treatment, has been an encouragement to me.
May our hope in Christ strengthen us to persevere through trials and mature in our faith (James 1:2-3). We have hope because the ending of our story is secure: those who trust in Jesus will be reunited with Him and with each other for eternity (Psalm 27:13-14). One day our grief will turn to joy when He restores all things (Revelation 21:4).
3. Hope fills us with joy and purpose
I started studying law and creative writing to become a lawyer and writer, thinking that it would equip me to bring about real change—advocate for the vulnerable, draft better laws, and speak out against injustice. However, I soon discovered that my introverted personality made me fearful of speaking in class, let alone participate in moots (mock trials). I became self-conscious about my fluency, my stand-out accent, and quickness in crafting arguments.
It took the first four years of law school to relearn my hopes and let go of my fear of failure. During this time, I attended the Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF) on campus and experienced the joy of serving alongside like-minded believers who were passionate about sharing God’s love with others. The countless hours of committee meetings, Bible study preparation, and journeying with people never felt like a chore. Knowing that I was doing what I was created to do—serving Christ and pointing others to Him through good deeds—gave me an inexpressible joy and satisfaction.
When I looked back in my final year, God opened my eyes to see how He had reshaped my hopes as the sovereign author of my life. The onus was no longer on me to find passion in what I do, or to achieve the goals I believed I had to attain to be “good enough”. Christ’s saving work on the cross was sufficient for me.
Reorienting my hope onto God’s abilities helped me to step out in faith and obedience. I began to focus less on people’s opinions of me, and more on how God sees me as His beloved child (Ephesians 2:10). This freed me to labour with deep joy and purpose in every area of my life, be it my studies, work, routine chores, or mundane errands.
Our hope in God fills us with joy and peace not just for ourselves, but for these to overflow into the lives of others, as testimony to Christ (Romans 15:12-13). The message of Jesus’s death and resurrection—bringing forgiveness for our sins and reconciliation with God—is the greatest hope we can give to our family and friends. And every moment is an opportunity for us to mirror God’s heart and hope through our speech and conduct (1 Timothy 4:12).
As we plant our hope in God, we can be confident that He will work in and through our daily lives to accomplish His enduring and good purposes—for our growth and His glory.