And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. -1 Corinthians 13:13
Approximately 2,000 years ago, the apostle Paul penned those words, and they’re still quite well known and often quoted. In this one verse, Paul summed up the essence of the Christian faith and life. In just three words, he boiled down basic Christianity to its most essential ingredients. Those three irreplaceable dynamics are faith, hope, and love. Today we hear quite a lot about faith and especially love, but we don’t hear as much about the word sandwiched in the middle. And yet, it may be what people in the world need the most: real and lasting hope.
If hope is not wishful thinking, what is it? Why is it so important? Where can we find it? How do we sustain it? Let us start with what biblical hope is not. The kind of hope that the apostle Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 13:13 isn’t a wishy-washy kind of superstitious luck. It’s not the kind of uncertain hope when we say things like, “I hope my favorite team wins the championship this year.” It’s not the kind of hope where we hope “bad things” won’t happen to us, or that we’ll be spared trouble or hardship. It’s not a hope that denies reality or is escapism from the harsher realities of life. It’s not a hope that is pure optimism or “positive thinking.”
The kind of hope the Bible speaks of is confident and sure. Hope is rooted in God’s character and nature, despite our feelings or situations. It’s a hope anchored in not just God’s promises but in his very person. It’s a hope that is eternal in nature and provides confidence found not in ourselves or in our circumstances. It’s a hope rooted in Jesus and what he has accomplished on our behalf by his grace and great love for us. It’s not a hope that looks inward or tries harder to pull ourselves together in our own resources. Rather, it looks upward and draws upon a supernatural yet real strength. Hebrews 6:17-20 states,
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.
***This post is an excerpt from my book Hope Rising: Finding Hope in a Turbulent World. If you would like to read more, you can order a copy of it here: Hope Rising. Additionally, you can check out a sermon I wrote out on this on Sermon Central here: Biblical Hope.