Important Biblical Words – #89

Our 89th Word is Hope

The meaning of hope is to wait with confident expectation.

“In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” (Titus 1:2)

Hope. The mere word can make our hearts beat faster. And when we manage to grab ahold of the gift itself, the effect is miraculous. With hope we’re able to keep going, even when all seems lost.

Depending on which English translation you’ve got, you’ll find the word hope some 150-200 times in the Bible. Old Testament scholars translate multiple Hebrew words as “hope.” Most of these stem from a common root word that conveys the basic idea of “trust”.

Another Hebrew word gets translated as both “hope” and “wait”, which is only fitting; don’t hope and waiting always go hand in hand? In the New Testament, the primary Greek verb translated “hope” has the same sense: “to look forward to with confidence; to wait expectantly.”

If you want a good snapshot of hope, check out those three kids sitting on the curb, each one clutching a fistful of change. What are they doing? They’re waiting for the ice cream man, of course.

It doesn’t matter that they can’t yet see his blue and yellow truck coming up the street. Never mind that they can’t yet hear the loud, jangly music that announces his arrival in the neighborhood.

The children are sure he’ll come. In fact, it never enters their minds that he might not show up. Why? Because he comes every Thursday without fail. And so they wait with confidence. And the waiting, though agonizing to ten-year-old taste buds, somehow makes the ice cream taste even better.

People often use the word hope when they really mean is wish. For example, “I sure hope they call out my numbers in tonight’s Powerball drawing.” Sorry, but such sentiments are the antithesis of biblical hope.

Biblical hyope isn’t wishful thinking. On the contrary, it’s rooted in the faithful character and flawless track record of God. Biblical hope, a sort of first cousin to faith, is the logical and confident expectation, even in dark and scary places, that God will make good on all His promises. Hope is what tethers us in life’s storms. No wonder Hebrews 6:19 says that “hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.”

Right now there’s an alarming amount of bad stuff in the world. Biblical hope looks unblinkingly at all these grim realities, acknowledges them, and then without any false bravado or naivete, says, “Nevertheless, all will be well.”

As God for hope. Then pay attention to His promises. Be still and listen. Do you hear hope’s whisper? It goes something like this: “The story’s not over. Keep waiting and watching. Trust!”

Question to Ponder

  1. What surprises you most about the biblical understanding of hope?



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