Six Important Links to the Meaning of Hope

Romans 15:13,

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.  

1. Link Between Gratitude and Hope

Gratefulness looks back. Hope looks forward with desire and reasonable confidence and expectation. By looking back, gratitude fuels forward-looking hope.

As with over-matched ball teams that are behind late in the game, hanging their heads without oomph, without hope for the future, there isn’t power for the present.

Persons who tend not to be grateful tend not to be hopeful.

2. Link Between Hopelessness and Misplaced Trust

Hopelessness is a curse; it’s the curse of trusting in man or in anything other than God and his perfect wisdom and timing.

Despair looks at immediate realities; hope sees ultimate realities. Some see a hopeless end, but others see an Endless Hope.

Psalm 33:17, The war horse is a false hope for salvation. . .

How is hope sustained? Answer: trust the right thing — God.

Hope believes that God is not done. Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not the feeling we will have. That is, hope is the (up) feeling we have that the (down) feeling we have is not permanent. 

3. Link Between Old Testament text (Isaiah 11:1–10) with New Testament Hope

The Old Testament is a story of frustrated hope. Everyone longs for God to do something.

Why was Isaiah 11:1–10 written? Here’s one reason:

Romans 15:4, "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Romans 15:12–13, "And again Isaiah says, 'The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.' 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."

4. Link Suffering to Hope

Romans 5:2–5,

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.

The goal of everything, including suffering, is hope.

Many lose hope during tribulation, but God intends for tribulation to produce hope… through faith.

How does one grow in hope during tribulation? Answer: God’s love is poured into our hearts (through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us).

5. Link Jesus to Your Hope

Jesus is our hope.

In the baby Jesus, God was fulfilling the hopes of his people in a way that they did not recognize. We may not see it now, but God has already acted for us, and God is working even now behind the scenes to bring about his good will.

The key is to remember Jesus, who knows your situation, and whose Spirit in us is a down payment of glory yet to come. God is not done.

6. Link Your Hope to the God Who Is Not Done

God was not done when Noah was in the boat, Sarah was barren, Joseph was in prison, Moses was on the run from Pharaoh, the children of Israel were pinned against the Red Sea, the walls of Jericho blocked possession of the promised land, Gideon was hiding from the Midianites, Samson was seduced by a woman and blinded, Ruth was widowed, David was mocked as a boy facing a giant, Job’s children were all killed, government officials persecuted Daniel, Jonah was in the belly of a fish, Paul couldn’t get rid of this thorn, and Jesus was put in the grave. God is not done!

Hope is not undone, because he is not done!

Sam Crabtree is Executive Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church and author of Practicing Affirmation (Crossway, 2011). Listen to Sam's recent sermon at Bethlehem that this post is based on.

Sam Crabtree is executive pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church and the author of Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God (Crossway, 2011).