by PJ Salas
"Your expectation will not fail; for there surely is a future posterity." Proverbs 23:18.
What Hope Is
Hope is expectation, it is anticipation and optimism. It anticipates the expected, and optimistically sees the desired outcome. When you hope for something, you are in anticipation of that which you optimistically expect. In essence, it is a type of faith.
The substance of hope is an active experience in the expected, which is manifested in different ways, for different people, and different yearnings.
Hope invigorates and encourages; it motivates and strengthens resolve. It inspires engagement, enlivens enterprise, and impassions us with courage. And even though it can be unsettling, hope hastens us to drive beyond discomfort, and urges us in the desired conclusion. It is the belief that the aspired will happen; the springboard that propels us despite discouragement, complications, and painfully difficult circumstance.
Understanding hope is important, and realizing that the expectation, depending on what is required, demands different forms of involvement. There are times when attainment means industry, even in spite of disadvantage. Other times it means waiting; this is especially true when we are waiting on God.
The waiting aspect of hope can cause us to struggle with impatience. We want to make things happen, even though the participation in the hope is to trust in the Lord, patiently.
For example, Abraham's involvement in his hope for a son meant unswerving faith in God for twenty-five years. As is the case for many of us, self-restraint is not easy. This was true for Abraham. He decided to help God out, and tried to make the expectation happen; which resulted in two brothers at odds, followed by generations of conflict.
Another example of hope that waits on the Lord is ancient Israel's captivity. They reaped the consequences of their perverse and dreadful choices; but God did not leave them without hope. He promised them well in advance of their exile that after seventy years they would rebuild in their own land in peace.
Israel's participation was to occupy until it comes. They were to carry on with the daily business of living and laboring, despite oppression in a foreign land.
We find a different type of participation in the story of Esther, who turned to God for help when her people were facing annihilation. The Lord promised hope for a favorable outcome, and He delivered right away. Her effort was prayer, and courage to implore the king for help, which could have cost Esther her life.
There are times our expectation obliges us to materialize the hope, and there are times when participation means doing things seemingly unrelated, or simply waiting.
The reality is that whatever is required for the fulfillment of the hope, it is involvement, whether it is waiting patiently as you go on in the daily duties of living and working, or in rendering the hope by specific things that produce the desired outcome, or contributing through prayer, petition, and sacrifice.
The Nature of Hope
One of the most important and particularly special aspects of hope is that it produces happy and purposeful function. Hopefulness can precipitate lasting, positive outcomes; conquering the negative and effecting the positive, removing hindering obstacles that the desire may come to fruition.
Inversely, our unrealized longings can cause disappointment. Often unfilled aspirations do not happen because it is not in our best interest. Most likely, it is in the graciousness of God that it did not materialize, for it would not be to our benefit. While this may not always be the case, still, for those who trust firmly in God, it is.
Hope and Optimism
Hope and optimism are one in the same, defined as having an expectation for fulfillment of an aspiration. However, there are differences.
Without hope, there is no optimism. You cannot be optimistic about something you do not hope for; think about it. Moreover, hope is much more than optimism. When the anticipated want does not readily ensue, hope carries us beyond the dearth of confidence, and compels us in spite of apparent disappointment (Proverbs 13:12).
This manifests in everyday life. We hope for a better tomorrow and a brighter future, desiring the best for our children and ourselves. These longings occur throughout life. They are the hopes and dreams of people everywhere, in which people actively engage for a wholesome outcome despite struggle, heartache, disappointment, pain, and sacrifice.
Hope is not just optimism, nor is it just a dream, it is more; it is an insistent belief that thrusts us forward in the cherished result.
Contrarily, a lack of hope can inhibit function, derail incentive and inventiveness, and vanquish courage. Without it, life can become vacuous, hollow rounds of going through the motion. And sadly, a life devoid of hope can leave people depressed and suicidal.
In this sin-filled world, hope is essential. The nature of sin is perverse, leaving us empty and unfulfilled. Sin necessitates hope, and is the reason it exists. Without iniquity, there is no need for expectancy. Before transgression life was perfect, there was no want or desiring; all that was good and necessary was present in life. Joy and happiness were the natural way. There was no need for yearning.
Fulfillment of the Expected End
The yearning of all is the Lord Jesus Christ, though many are unaware of it. He is the hope of all creation. Christ is the hope and desire of all nations (Haggai 2:7); the optimistic future that satisfies all our expectations. In Him is the fulfillment of all things good and right. Through Him we know true goodness and lasting outcomes that lead to an eternal future of genuine joy and love.
Oh how we need Jesus, our thirsting for something better. In Jesus we will realize our expected end for an everlasting future of beauty and wholeness. He is our hope.
"Blessed is the one whose trust is in the Lord; and whose hope is in Him." "Your expectation will not fail; for there surely is a future posterity." Jeremiah 17:7; Proverbs 23:18.