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Hope defined

But there’s something else that comes into play when we think about the blessing of hope.  It’s not just a matter of connecting our future to our present, there’s also the matter of keeping our eyes on the prize.  Too many times, I think we forget what our hope (the prize) is.  We are deceived or distracted into thinking it is something it is not.

Take the lottery - please.  "The lottery is a tax on people who don’t understand math."  Or, this one I heard today:  "You have a better chance on getting struck by lighting on your way to buy a lottery ticket than you do of winning the lottery. " (That seems to put things in perspective).  Still, people continue to waste money on something that will never pay off.  It is a false hope.  But of course, it’s not just the lottery that’s a false hope.  There’s the false hope of materialism, that having nice things will somehow translate into contentment.  There’s the false hope that achieving a certain status will bring us blessings.  You can add you own things to the list.  The point is, living in a culture that is caught up in these things makes it easy for us to get caught up in them too. 

The palmist addressed some equally false hopes of his time in Psalm 33.

No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
       despite all its great strength it cannot save
(v. 16-17).

He then reminded his readers of the true object of their hope:

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
       on those whose hope is in his unfailing love . . .

We wait in hope for the LORD;
       he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,
       for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
       even as we put our hope in you,
(v. 18, 20-22).

A glance at the “hope” passages in the NT is instructive, especially if you pay attention to the verbs that are used in connection with the word.  Here are some that grabbed my attention:

*      “ . . . not moved from the hope,” (Colossians 1:23);

*      “. . . endurance inspired by hope,” (1 Thessalonians 1:3);

*      “ . . . we wait for the blessed hope,” (Titus 2:13);

*      “ . . . hold on to the courage and hope of which we boast,” (Hebrews 3:6);

*      “. . . fled to take hold of the hope offered to us,” (Hebrews 6:18);

*      “. . . let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,” (Hebrews 10:23).

You get the idea that they shared in the same struggle as us --- holding on to the true hope we have in God.  Whether it the psalmist’s time, the first century, or the twenty-first century, the challenge is the same – don’t let go of the hope you have in God. 

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,” (Ephesians 1:18).    

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