It's a word we say often, but don't always lay to heart.
How easy it is to lose hope! In our humanness, it is easy to look at circumstances, to fail to see God's hand at work, and to think, "Nothing will ever change... why hope if nothing is going to happen?" I found myself considering this issue the other month. There was something that I have been praying about for a very long time, and I thought I saw God beginning to work in this situation, and my earthly self thought quickly, "Don't hope-- you have hoped something would happen before and your hopes were dashed. Don't make yourself vulnerable to let them be dashed again."
But then God, who is so much wiser than I, began to bring to my attention many verses that contradicted this fleshly thought. Some of these He pointed out to me as I read His Word. Others He reminded me of through the words of a very sweet friend.
The first I had posted up on my wall in my bedroom:
"Love bears all things,
believes all things,
HOPES all things,
endures all things."
(1 Corinthians 13:7)
True, Christlike love does not think, "I can't see so-and-so getting right with God, so why hope?" Instead, it trusts God and prepares itself to see Him work.
But what if hope disappoints me??
"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed (or as I read elsewhere, "does not disappoint"); because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Romans 5:3-5)
Hope is a little bit like faith. With both hope and faith, you can't see, but you must choose to believe. Webster's 1828 defines hope this way: "To cherish a desire of good, with some expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable." It is not an "I wish, I wish, I wish", but looking forward to something with a belief that God is able to, and will, do as He has promised.
When I was thinking over this topic of hope, I was reminded of the scene in our Pilgrim's Progress audio tapes, which I believe isn't in the book... After Christian discovers the Key of Promise when he and Hopeful are in the Dungeon of Despair, he takes a moment to see if anyone else in the dungeon will be free with him and Hopeful. "Will anyone choose to believe God's promise, and act upon it?" The one man they speak with, however, is so trapped in the changes of Despair, that he cannot reach out in hope and be freed. Thinking of that scene, I considered how we can see God work in wonderful ways when we hope and believe in Him, and how the opposite of Hope is Despair, which chains us in and prevents us from seeing God work and fulfill His promise.
We can hope and trust in God because Jesus has risen from the dead and given us life in Him. We can hope and believe to see God work because He has promised to do so. Let us not lose heart. Let us hope in the Lord.
"It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord." (Lamentations 3:25)
"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." (Romans 8:24-25)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3)