If you look for synonyms for hope, you’ll find words like want, wish, and desire. You’ll also find the word “plan.” If I were to say, I hope I can fly (which I secretly do, not in a plane, actually fly) then you might interpret that as a wish or a desire (that will never, ever happen), but if I were to say I plan to fly (up, up, and away!), then you’d probably smile, nod, and give me those big “you’re crazy” eyes. Why? Because it’s okay to wish and want something, but when we start planning…well, then there’s more substance to our hope than just wishful thinking.
Hope is a powerful thing. It drives people to stay the course. It propels them forward when they feel like quitting. It projects something positive and gives them something to believe in. It causes them to plan and make adjustments to their life. And when what we hope for doesn’t happen, it can break our hearts.
There have been a few times in my life when my faith in God has been shaken to a crossroads. When things I had grown so sure about suddenly seemed to not be so clear to me. There’s a verse in 2 Timothy that says “…if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13) I hold on to that when I just don’t believe things are going to work out, when I have far more questions than I have answers.
Faith depends on hope. When we lose hope, then where are we? The opposite of hope is despair. I’ve been there once. I had no hope that my life would get better. As a matter of fact, I thought the opposite. It could only get worse. There was nothing I could do to fix any of my brokenness. But the basis of hope stepped in and changed my life. God rescued me, and I didn’t even think he cared.
He showed me how to hope again. He became my hope. Other synonyms for hope are expect, trust, and yearn. Does that describe your hope? We may try to hope in math or science. We may think people won’t let us down. We may even think that we are the master’s of our destinies. But there’s only one hope that will not fail–hope that is grounded in God. We can expect him to keep his word, trust him to do what he says, and yearn to see him face to face. And we can do all of those things with confidence.
Today’s the first Sunday of Advent. We lit the hope candle today. “…hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5) Have hope, dear friend. You are greatly loved.