We live. We die. Then…..
Hope – Just what is this?
To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.
The Old Testament. There are several Hebrew verbs that may in certain contexts be translated “to hope” in English. One of them, qawa [h”w’q], may denote “hope” in the sense of “trust, ” as when Jeremiah addresses God, “Our hope is in you” ( Jer 14:22 ). He also uses a noun formed from the root qwh [h”w’q] to teach that the Lord is the hope of Israel (14:8; 17:13; 50:7), which means that Israel’s God is worthy of trust. Another noun from the same root, tiqwa [h”w.qiT], is often also translated “hope” meaning “trust.” Similarly, the verb qawa [h”w’q] is parallel to batah [j;f’B], “to trust, ” in Psalm 25:2-3.
In the Old Testament believers are encouraged to wait for God hopefully, expectantly. In times of trouble one should wait for the Lord, who will turn things around ( Psalm 25:21 ; 27:14 ; 40:1 ; 130:5 ). Sometimes expressions of hope are accompanied by the prayer that the supplicant will not be ashamed, that is, disappointed. “May those who hope in you not be disgraced” ( Psalm 69:6 ; cf. Psalm 22:5 ; Psalms 25:2-3 Psalms 25:20 ). God promises that those who wait for him will not be disappointed ( Isa 49:23 ). God is able to bring about the realization of one’s hopes. Looking with expectation is akin to hoping ( Job 6:19 ; Jer 8:15 ). From “looking for” or “expecting” it is a small semantic shift to desiring ( Isa 26:8 ).
Twenty-seven times qawa [h”w’q] comes into the Greek Old Testament as hupomeno [uJpomevnw], “to wait, ” “to be patient, ” “to endure.” Where suffering is present, the term may indicate that the individual is bearing affliction patiently while hopefully waiting for the Lord’s deliverance. Psalm 40 is a psalm of thanksgiving that recounts the suffering of an individual whose hope was realized. “I waited patiently for the Lord” ( Psalm 40:1 ; 130:5-6 ).
Because of the close connection between hope and trust and because of the requirement to trust in God alone, a number of passages warn against trust in other things. We should not trust in riches ( Job 31:24-28 ; Psalm 52:1-7 ; Prov 11:28 ), idols ( Psalm 115:3-11 ; Hab 2:18-19 ), foreign powers ( Isa 20:5 ), military might ( Isa 30:15-16 ; 31:1-3 ; Hosea 10:13 ), princes ( Psalm 146:3-7 ), or other humans ( Jer 17:5-8 ). God is the true object of hope, but occasionally there are others. One may put one’s hope in his steadfast love ( Psalm 33:18 ), in his ordinances ( Psalm 119:43 ), and in his word ( Psalms 119:49 Psalms 119:74 Psalms 119:81 Psalms 119:114 Psalms 119:147 ). Besides waiting in eager expectation for God, one may wait or hope for his teaching ( Isa 42:4 ) and for his salvation ( Psalm 119:166 ).
Hope is the proper response to the promises of God. Abraham serves as a prime example here. Even though he was very old, he had confidence that God would fulfill his promises. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed” ( Rom 4:18 ). Like Abraham, we can trust in God’s promises and “seize the hope set before us” ( Heb 6:18 ). More generally, we are told that the Scriptures engender hope ( Rom 15:4 ). The Holy Spirit is also a source of hope, for his power causes hope to abound ( Rom 15:13 ). Finally, hope comes as a gift from God through grace ( 2 Th 2:16 ).
Hope leads to joy ( Rom 12:12 ) boldness ( 2 Cor 3:12 ), and faith and love ( Col 1:4-5 ). Hope also leads to comfort; we are to encourage one another with the knowledge of the resurrection ( 1 Th 4:18 ). Though boasting in our works is disallowed, we may boast or exult in hope of sharing God’s glory ( Rom 5:2 ; cf. Heb 3:6 ).
Hope has a sanctifying effect. We who look expectantly for the return of Christ, knowing that when we see him we shall become like him, purify ourselves “as he is pure” ( 1 John 3:3 ). Hope also stimulates good works. Following his teaching on resurrection of the dead, Paul exhorts his readers to do the Lord’s work abundantly since such “labor is not in vain” ( 1 Cor 15:51-58 ).