Foolish Human Hope Versus Invincible Godward Hope

Most human beings, at least until they meet with tragedy, are wired to hope. Merriam Webster Dictionary says to hope is: “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.” When I was a kid, I hoped I’d get that Fanner Fifty Cap Gun for Christmas, or that Lake Mattoon would be warm when we’d jump in. When I was in college, I hoped I’d get a girlfriend. We humans are constantly hoping. We hope the weather will warm up soon. We hope something good will be on TV tonight. We hope we’ll get that job or win the lottery or have a baby. We hope we’ll be happy. We hope our kids will be happy.

Hope gets us through pain and hard times. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” The Dalai Lama says, “I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.”

The only problem is, mere human hope is really no more than a wish. There is no guarantee we’ll get the things we hope for. I’d like to ask Thich Nhat Hanh or the Dalai Lama what basis they have for their hope. Maybe they’d give me a good answer, but apart from believing that the universe is controlled by a sovereign, loving, wise God who promises to forgive us, help us, and hear our prayers, there’s no solid hope. Only wishing.

But we who believe in Jesus have a hope that is more than a wish. Christian hope is a certainty, a sure and solid hope. We don’t wish our sins are forgiven, we know they are. We don’t wish we’ll go to heaven, we know we will. Christian hope is a rock solid confidence that though I don’t see something, I know it’s real. I know that someday I’ll be in heaven and see Jesus’ face. I know that someday I’ll have a glorious, imperishable body and someday it will be worth every second of pain I endure for Jesus. There’s no doubt. Human hope is a wish packed in a box alongside doubt and uncertainty. Christian hope is a joyful, confident assurance.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. RO 15.13

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. RO 5:2-5

Believers “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We know without a doubt we will see the glory of God and be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. We don’t wish with uncertainty. We believe. We know. Our hope “does not put us to shame.” If we hoped we’d see God then didn’t, our hope would put us to shame. But our hope does not put us to shame. We know our suffering will be worth it. We know it’s worth enduring suffering because our certain hope is that our enduring is making us more and more like Jesus in character. We don’t just wish we’d become more like Christ. We know God is making us like Christ through our sufferings.

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” PS 39.7

Our sure and certain hope isn’t in some idea we’ve come up with. “My hope is in YOU.” Our hope is in a Person, the living God, who always tells the truth and never lies or makes mistakes, who fulfills his every promise. It is Christian hope that can “make the present moment less difficult to bear.” It is our confidence in Jesus that produces true “hope in the darkest of days.”

If you don’t yet believe in Jesus, read the book of John. Read Jesus’ words. Read about his miracles. Read how he rose physically from the dead after paying for your sins on a Roman cross. When you believe in Jesus, he gives you an unshakable hope.

If you do believe in Jesus, may God fill your heart with joyful hope today as you hold fast to his promises.

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.