Hope is the confidence that, when things are not right, they will come right. Hope is a light shining in the darkness. It is the light at the end of the tunnel.
But what confidence can we have that things will come right? Is there light at the end of our tunnel?
Hope is essential for human survival. If there is no expectation that things can be better, there is only despair and no reason to live. At least, that is how it seems in those times of darkness.
Christians know that they can hold onto the promises of God, knowing that God is faithful and will keep those promises. Therefore, there is every reason to live and, indeed, to be able to rejoice even in the darkness.
In The Bible
There are many biblical passages that explicitly mention hope.
Besides that, it could be said that the whole Bible is about hope. In the midst of humanity's alienation from God, and the consequences of that, God reaches out to redeem His people. One day His Kingdom will be established and it will be perfect.
Genesis 3:15 - As a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience, God pronounces judgement. But, even in that context, there is the first mention of a descendant of the woman who will crush Satan's head.
All of the Old Testament prophecies of a Messiah are messages of hope. There will be a Saviour.
The prophets often foretold judgement unless the people repented. But, that is always coupled with proclamations of God's mercy and forgiveness where there was repentance.
The message of eternal salvation, including the coming of the Kingdom of God, gives Christians the assurance that there is a fantastic future.
Passages That Explicitly Mention Hope
Proverbs 13:12 - Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Isaiah 40:30-31 - Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Lamentations 3:20-22 - I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
Acts 24:14-16 - However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
Romans 5:3-5 - Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope 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 8:22-25 - We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 12:12 - Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 15:4 - For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 13:7 - [Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:13 - And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 15:17-19 - And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
2 Corinthians 3:11-12 - And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
Galatians 5:5 - For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.
Ephesians 1:11-12 - In him we were also chosen,[a] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:18-19a - I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 2:12 - ...remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
Ephesians 4:4-5 - There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
Colossians 1:3-6a - We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.
Colossians 1:22-23 - But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
Colossians 1:27 - To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 - We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:19 - For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?
1 Thessalonians 4:13 - Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 - But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 - May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
1 Timothy 4:10 - That is why we labour and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, and especially of those who believe.
1 Timothy 6:17 - Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Titus 1:1-3 - Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness – in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Saviour,
Hope: Choosing Faith Instead Of Fear - Bill Crowder (Our Daily Bread) - audiobook (38 minutes) also available as a pdf.
What is So Important About Christian Hope? - John Piper (Desiring God) (audio and text)
"Two Unbearable Words": The Nature Of Christian Hope - Craig Biehl (bible.org)
Christian Hope - (Taize)
Christian Hope Changes Everything - Jen Oshman (Crossway)
What Is The Christian Hope? - (Got Questions)
Christian Hope In A World Of Pessimism - Brian Griffiths (The Article)
A Case Study: Negro Spirituals
Slaves in America, enduring terrible and dehumanising suffering, sang great songs of hope deeply rooted in the promises of scripture. Listen to these words. If necessary look up the lyrics and study them. Identify the scriptures that are being sung. Look them up and meditate on them.
Check out these playlists of African American Spirituals. How many of them are about hope?
In our world there is a lot of negative, despairing talk but there are also voice calling us to have hope. There are motivational speakers convincing us that the future can be better. Many will tell us that we can achieve whatever we can dream.
But is it true? What is the secular basis for hope? What is the reason for believing that things will get better? Is there any basis at all?
Here is a secular inspirational video on hope.
It speaks about faith and belief but it is belief in ourselves.
How does this hope compare with Christian hope? What is true and what is false in this presentation?
Is it true that, if you just believe in yourself, all your dreams will come true?
There is no doubt that human attitude and effort can achieve a great deal. We can expand what we can do with some life skills.
But are there any guarantees?
What is the relationship between our efforts and a confident hope?