Hebrew: בָּטַח – state of confidence, security
Greek: ἐλπίς – to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence
If you are safely in a boat calling to a man overboard, you do not tell him it’s going to be alright when he is in fact drowning. But it would be kind indeed to offer that truth once he has a good hold of a life-preserver ring. It takes a moment or two to orient after having taken hold, but once done, hope can be brought to bear.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
God created a linear, forward moving existence for us. It was to have been an uninterrupted experience where we enjoyed intimacy with Him in the context of His creation. He built into our being this wildly creative component called memory so we could carry with us an accumulative experience making every subsequent encounter richer. That may be one of the most stunning, romantic gifts given by our Maker; an eternal, perpetually growing, ever-expanding compilation of encounters of the deepest nature. Eden.
When sin entered the world, a parallel story emerged. That beautiful gift of memory, still the accumulative thing that it was, now expanded with a degenerate ingredient that it did not have initially. It is this reality that has invited people down through the ages to despair, and it’s here that I begin to see the indispensable gift that hope is.
We don’t need an education on what it means to despair. Nor do we need an explanation of brokenness. We feel it. It’s infiltrated the life experience of every single human. We recognize it in each other and in creation. We are constantly invited to buckle under the weight of irreconcilable travesties occurring on every corner of our planet and under our own roofs. No one is exempt.
Humankind has demonstrated remarkable resiliency in response to this disintegration, creating and making excellent use of all manner of therapy. Psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy… each has become a well established, highly lucrative industry.
Additionally, the global pharmaceutical drug industry (estimated to bring in 300 billion dollars this year alone), controls much of what happens in our society and government. Mental institutions, prisons, orphanages, homeless shelters, health spas, wellness centers, the vitamin supplement industry, counseling practices, humanitarian/relief organizations, are all offered in response to the corruption of God’s original design.
For all the good this does, it exists to target symptoms, by either treating, masking, altering or reforming. But God offers an actual remedy, reaching the core of the problem. His children are an integral part of the delivery of this remedy. We are commanded to love people, and in the face of despair, to offer hope.
One day, this present age will come to an end. The remnant will enter an existence where all has been made right; the massive exhale that says “goodbye” to brokenness and “hello” to everything redeemed. Context and wholeness restored. The book of Matthew says we will “shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
In the meantime, we experience shadows and moments and glimpses, AND we remind weary people of the surety of our hope; of the surety of the nearness of God. We are a people of hope. It’s meant to characterize us as much as anything else we might be known for.
Love hopes all things. You will never find a shortage of souls desperate to be reminded of the transforming presence of God or of the hope that is to come. Nor will you find words more suited to encourage than those that follow.
For I consider
that our present sufferings
cannot even be compared
to the coming glory
that will be revealed to us.
For the creation eagerly waits
for the revelation of the sons of God.
For the creation
was subjected to futility—
not willingly but because of God
who subjected it—
that the creation itself
will also be set free
from the bondage of decay
into the glorious freedom
of God’s children.
For we know that the whole creation
groans and suffers together until now.
Not only this, but we ourselves also,
who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we eagerly await
our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved.
Now hope that is seen is not hope,
because who hopes for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see,
we eagerly wait for it