As kids, we live with hope right near the surface of our thought-lives. We wake up early, excited about the games we’ll play and the things we’ll see, and sure that everyone and everything is working together to make sure we’re happy. We hope. As we grow older, many of us realise that our happiness isn’t the primary focus of everyone else in the world (much to our disappointment!), and we see enough things go wrong to become cynical and doubtful. And I get it – the world can be nasty. Some people become so disenfranchised about things that they, like Nietzsche, begin to think that hope is “the most evil of evils because it prolongs man’s torment.” It sounds depressing, but it is true if your hope is in the world. If what we see is all there is, then all hope does is give us wishful thinking before everything comes crashing down again. But hope isn’t wishful thinking. It’s much more powerful than that. It’s founded on the One who is sure.
Fanny Crosby, one of the greatest hymn writers the world has ever known, was blind from infancy. She was born in 1820, and at six weeks old, caught a cold and developed inflammation of the eyes. A poorly trained quack recommended mustard plasters as treatment, and she was left without sight for the remainder of her long life. Her father died when she was less than one, and the only child she ever had died not long after birth. Suffice it to say that on the surface she had some good reasons to be lacking in hope for the future. It surely seemed that the enemy had got the best of her, but he never did. Her hope was in the presence and promises of God. When asked if she wished for sight, she said, “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Saviour”. She wasn’t suffering from wishful thinking. She had confident expectation in something that she knew was true. She was a citizen of Heaven, the home of all hope.
In Romans 5 Paul tells us that suffering produces perseverance, which produces character, which produces hope. He reminds us that hope does not disappoint us. He’s not talking about just any sort of hope here. I hoped that Stevie Wonder would tour Australia again last year, and I was disappointed. But hope in the things of God cannot disappoint. If the situation isn’t full of hope, then it’s not the end. Jesus began His ministry with a statement of hope (reading from Isaiah 60), and His final words in the Bible start with a statement of hope, saying “Yes, I am coming soon” (in Rev 22:12). There is always hope in the presence of Jesus. Hope for healing, hope for salvation, hope for new life (just look back at Abraham and Sarah’s story!). God delights in doing the impossible, so be encouraged by the truth that hope does not disappoint!
Scriptures to check out: Psalm 42, Romans 5:1-6, Hebrews 6:19-20.