In the Meantime (Part 1)
Hope is so meaningful to all of us, especially to those of us who are suffering. Right now, for all us who are waiting for God to show up and act on our behalf, what do we do in the meantime to avoid the things that threaten our hope and at the same time strengthen our hope?
What Does Biblical Hope Mean?
Most people use the word hope as wishful thinking with no real basis for believing that what they’re hoping for will come about. An example is a long pass at the end of a football game; the ball hangs in the air as if in slow motion, you hope your team can score for the win. The desire for your team to win is there, but there is no real confident expectation that they will. You think there’s a chance, but you don’t get your expectations up very high, because the odds are against you.
Biblical hope is desire and expectation together. If you are missing either desire or expectation, it’s not biblical hope. You can desire to win the lottery, but you don’t expect to win. You expect to pay your taxes, but you don’t desire to pay your taxes. Hope is desire and longing mixed with anticipation and expectation for something God has promised to come. So right now, in the meantime, we wait with longing, while also expecting God to come through on our behalf.
Another misunderstanding when it comes to hope is the object - what are we hoping for? Remember hope isn’t just desire; it has to have expectancy with it. Our expectancy comes from the promises of God. God and His word is the object of our hope. We hope in Him. We can expect it because He cannot and will not lie.
So how do we have hope when God hasn’t explicitly promised to heal our marriage, to heal the cancer, to heal the depression or anxiety? When He hasn’t explicitly promised us in His word to do something, we still hope in His character.
Scripture doesn't guarantee that God will deliver me out of whatever catastrophe I may find myself in. It doesn't promise me that one day, in this life, I will be set on high above all my problems. It doesn't say he will rescue me from all my diseases; maybe the cancer takes me and there is no long satisfying life. I’m not promised to see salvation from the suffering which I am undergoing in this lifetime.
But Scripture does reveal the character of God that I can put my hope in. I know that God can deliver the one who loves Him, that God can set securely on high those who know His name. God can answer prayers as we ask of Him. God can rescue and honour and give me a long and satisfying life, and God can show me His salvation in any and every possible situation.
So I put my hope in a God who can do all these things even though He has never promised to do these things specifically for me. And by putting my hope in God, I am neither disappointed if He chooses to do or not do these things for me.
What Does Biblical Hope Mean for Us?
We desire the promises of God because they are good for us and we expect the promises of God because our hope is tied to God who promised, and cannot lie, to perform them.
Hebrews 6:19-20 says that our hope is like an anchor that is tied to Jesus, extending from Jesus presently in the heavenly temple fastened all the way to our soul. Our hope is sure and steadfast, our hope is an anchor, because our hope is Jesus Himself.
Instead of thinking of a ship anchored downward in a storm, think of your soul being anchored upward. No matter how hard life slams against you, no matter how tired you are, hit wave after wave, no matter how violently you are tossed back and forth, you are securely fastened to the One who will never let you go. Like anchors hidden in the deep, our anchor is hidden in heaven and has gone as a Forerunner for us, having become a High Priest forever. We are fastened securely to our High Priest, who is our Hope.
Our hope is not wishful thinking. It is sure and steadfast, intrinsically fastened to Jesus himself who is able to perform all He promised to us who believe in Him. Hope then, for us, means confidence in Jesus.
Isaiah confidently said, “For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him." (Isaiah 64:4). God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. There is no God besides Him who does this for you. This is why our hope is in the person of Jesus for the promises performed by Him. No other god acts as an anchor for our soul.
What have we learned?
First, hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is not that pass in the final seconds of a game. Hope is desire and expectation together. We desire many things that we don’t expect to receive and we expect many thing to happen that we don’t desire. Hope is desire and expectancy together. Hope is eagerly expecting or anticipating what God has promised to us who believe.
Second, because God is trustworthy to perform what He promised, then right now, in the meantime before we get to experience His promises, our hope is intrinsically fastened to Him. We may be tossed one side to the other; we may be moved up and down; pushed and pummeled but we will always be pulled forward through the storm. Because right now, in the meantime, while you wait, your soul is securely fastened to the immovable anchor, Jesus.
Eric Austin holds his Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, USA. After almost seven years as a pastor he stepped out of vocational ministry to support his wife in her recovery of Borderline Disorder (BPD). Eric was born and has lived his life with an extremely rare bone disease, a disease which has profoundly impacted his personal views on suffering. In recent years, as a result of walking alongside his wife’s own suffering, he has learned the emotional and psychological pain that often comes from living with a loved one having a personality disorder. Eric is passionate about teaching the Bible and seeing the grace of God radically alter people into looking more like Jesus through the suffering that has drastically altered their lives. He is the host of The Altered Podcast a podcast in which he attempts to do just this. Eric lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA with his wife Heidi and three children.