Biblical Hope: Better Than Wishing Upon a Star

Many cultures have the tradition of making birthday wishes before blowing out candles on the cake. It is also not unusual to find coins of every currency at the bottom of water fountains, thrown in with the hope of better fortune. From wishing wells to genies in a lamp, tales of worldly wishes coming to pass are all too common in children’s stories.

The 1828 edition of Webster’s has this definition of hope…
(1) A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety. 

It also HAD this definition (2) that is no longer present in newer editions of Webster’s Dictionary

(2) Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God’s gracious promises; a Scriptural sense. A well-founded scriptural hope, is, in our religion, the source of ineffable happiness.

Instead, it is supplanted by this definition (4) which is almost an antithesis to Christian hope…

(4) An opinion or belief not amounting to certainty but grounded on substantial evidence.

When we look at HOPE in the Scripture, it is not the world’s definition of wishful thinking. Biblical hope is not “finger-crossing” because biblical hope has a NAME – it is grounded in the finished redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross!

Hope in Greek is elpis (Strong’s 1680), and it means future hope. Elpis occurs 54 times in the New Testament and the highest usage is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans (13 times).

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, elpis. And elpis does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

Paul never uses hope in a doubtful manner, but instead, he focuses the attention on God’s love and His goodness. Biblical hope overcomes disappointment by filling us with patience, encouragement, and enthusiasm through the Holy Spirit. This living hope began growing in our hearts from the moment of our salvation when we became the children of God, a hope that we at one time were without.

Furthermore, we as believers also have access to the hope of Christ’s return in order to patiently wait with joy to be eternally with our Savior in heaven. This future hope encourages us to continue standing for God through any present adversity because the future has rewards for our perseverance in this current time of grace.

What are you hoping for this Christmas? For many at this moment, I believe it is the universal hope that the COVID pandemic would be over. At the time when the prophet Isaiah gave this prophecy, the nation of Israel was also hoping to be freed from the oppression they were experiencing from their natural enemies:

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.” Isa 9:1 (NIV)

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isa 9:2 (NIV)

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isa 9:6 (NIV)

This Advent season, may you find present HOPE to overcome every oppression as you reflect on God’s gift of salvation and the Holy Spirit to us while anticipating the future HOPE of Christ’s glorious return and our glorification in Him forever! (Romans 5:1)

Note: Consider joining one of our Life Groups through the month of December as we celebrate the Advent season by reflecting further on the weekly themes on Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.