Gilland: Grabbing onto real hope

Flower in pavement

We’ve just gone through another election cycle, one that has been talked about for weeks, and one that has once again left us wondering as to the outcome of several yet-undecided races. One friend of mine made a comment about our not finding out the results until Christmas. Well, we hope it won’t be that long.

Which brings me to the subject of this little reflection. Regardless of their political positions, most people had hopes for this election. And, based on the outcomes, those hopes are either fulfilled or dashed. 

But what is hope, really? Is it what we think we know it to be? And, are we hoping for the right things? How do we know if we are hoping for something that is not right?

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After all, hope is one of those well-known and well-used words in our language. As with any popular term that is heavily used in many different contexts, we can easily lose the core meaning of the concept. 

What I want to do is to look at hope through the lens of the Bible, and in particular, a chapter from the book of Psalms, where the psalmist gives us a couple of clues as to a hope that is biblical.

In Psalm 130, verses 1-4, we see that hope is not based on the absence of troubles and trials in our lives. The psalmist starts off with this in verse 1: “Out of the depths I have cried to You, Lord.”

First of all, it is critical that we understand that God knows we will struggle. And those struggles are in no way evidences of a lack of faith. Simply said: life happens. And when life turns difficult, as it had for this psalmist, God doesn’t stop being God. Part of the hope that we have in Him is discovered in the very process of calling out TO Him in a time of need.

Secondly, Psalm 130:5 shows us that true hope happens when we wait on His word. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and I wait for His word.

What an important and valuable encouragement. I have to say that I have a habit of hoping for something for which I haven’t prayed, at least not to the point that I am “waiting” for His word on the matter. A great question is this: “Is what I am hoping for in alignment with God and His word?”

Matthew Henry’s commentary is a much-loved and trusted work, which he wrote in the 1600s. Here is his timeless wisdom on that very question:

“We must hope for that only which he has promised in his word, and not for the creatures of our own fancy and imagination; we must hope for it because he has promised it, and not from any opinion of our own merit.”

Matthew Henry

At the end of the day, our best and most dependable hope will come from the Lord, as He has promised us in His Word. 

Having that kind of hope—placed firmly in the Lord—will help us in these troubled times. I can go to sleep at night knowing that I serve the Living God, who, as Peter said (see 1 Peter 1:3) has given us a living hope.

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