Hope is a powerful idea and like all ideas it has consequences. It is one of the greatest gifts of God’s grace in Christ to us. It is a gift which is given to us to possess (so that we might live in hope) and to share (so that others might live in hope). When we instill hope in another person, we are participating in bringing glory to the grind.
Without hope a person cannot live meaningfully because a lack of hope drains meaning from the present. Sometimes that drain can be almost complete leading to real hopelessness which, in turn, leads to a toxic despair. People like existentialist and novelist Albert Camus and philosopher Bertrand Russell expressed that despair.
Most people, often without any real foundation, manufacture hope to try to invest meaning into their lives. Some live with a false hope giving their devotion to a person or a thing; believing they cannot live without that person or thing makes it an idol in their lives. Others live with a vain hope, giving their devotion to what the world holds forth as keys to success and happiness: money, sex, popularity, power; all of which promise things they cannot deliver. There are also misplaced hopes, temporal hopes and other kinds as well. But none give a hope that is consistent with the way the world really is so they never provide real and lasting hope.
In our culture we often use the word “hope” as a synonym for “wish” (as in, “I hope I win the lottery”). This “hope as wish” idea always has an uncertainty about the outcome. There is always an “I don’t know” factor. However, biblical hope is grounded in certainty – it is being so sure about something in the future that it changes the way you live in the present. It is a future belief which provides present perspective. Biblical hope is hope with certainty (see Hebrews 11:1).
I Peter 1:3-4 tells us three important truths about the Christian’s hope:
- The source of the Christian’s hope is the abundant mercy of God (vs. 3). If God in his grace and mercy in Christ did not take the initiative to grant you hope, you would be left with false hope or vain hope or no hope. Peter says that God the Father is to be praised by us, given great glory, for condescending to us with this abundant mercy.
- The power of the Christian’s hope is the resurrection of Jesus Christ (vs. 3). This mercy leads us to a new birth – regeneration – and out of that new life grows a fresh hope. Peter describes it as a “living” hope, that is, one which is fruitful, creative, dynamic, life-giving and life-changing. This all comes to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ which is a testimony to the reality of forgiveness of sin and guilt and provides peace with God. The resurrection is powerful confirmation of the fact that our hope is real and will not disappoint.
- The aim of the Christian’s hope is an inheritance (vs. 4). This inheritance is something that has been set aside for us which one day will be ours. It is the invaluable treasure of a future glorious life, life in the presence of God forever with the penalty, power, and presence of sin and all its consequences fatally and finally gone. This inheritance can never perish, spoil, or fade because it is reserved for us in heaven.
This hope-filled inheritance grants us, ordinary people like you and me, a place in God’s multinational and everlasting family. He sets us apart as His kingdom builders in this world. However, we also recognize that we are broken people – but broken people with the hope of a healing and wholeness to come which will never pass away. We shall live forever in the Shalom of God.