Paul said three things would last forever – faith, hope and love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) We hear a lot about faith and love. But in most of the Christian circles I’ve been a part of hope gets very little attention at all.
Yet hope deferred… ” makes the heart sick.” We get that part. Do you know the rest of the verse?
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.— Proverbs 13:12
When what we hope for actually happens it is life giving.
During the Vietnam War, the senior US Prisoner of war was Jim Stockdale, who ultimately was promoted to Admiral. Stockdale was tortured more than 20 times in the 7+ years he was in captivity. He developed a tap code so the prisoners could communicate in secret. I was taught that same code decades later in my own survival training in the US Navy.
Stockdale said that the one type of person who was certain not to make it was what he called the “overly optimistic” types. They were the ones who would say, “we’re going to be rescued next week.”
When it didn’t happen they’d say, “OK. We’re going to be rescued next week.” Then, “we are sure to be rescued by Christmas!”
Those guys were the first to give up and die.
Because they repeatedly got their hopes up only to get them crushed. You do that to someone over and over it will eventually destroy them. To quote Stockdale, “they died of a broken heart.” We know that hope deferred makes a heart sick.
Stockdale paradox: You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. AND at the same time… You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
Getting Hope Wrong
There is a complete misunderstanding in the world today as to what hope really is. What does the world think hope is?
The world thinks of hope as a wish, dream or desire. “I hope I get that promotion at work.” “I hope it doesn’t rain on the day of my party.” “I hope I win the lottery.” Or, “I hope I get a good grade on the test.”
The desire is there. But the assumption is that it will never really work out. I mean what are the odds, right?
But when the Bible talks about hope it means something very different.
New Testament word for hope is ελπισ elpis; and it means “joyful and confident expectation”
Biblical hope has an expectation that the thing really can and is going to happen. It’s related to faith.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us what?
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.— Hebrews 11:1
Faith is the substance of things hoped for. So flipping it around you could say that hope is like the “precursor” to faith. You really can’t get to faith without first hoping for something.
Hope is like faith “in the larval state.” It’s “pre-faith.”
A Picture From ShipsLet me give you a picture.
My background is in the maritime industry. I worked in and around ocean going cargo ships for a couple decades.
One of the things I saw every day was ships tying up to the dock. It amazing to see a huge ship displacing tens of thousands of tons held to the dock with just a handful of mooring lines, which are basically just big ropes.
Those big ships that can carry cargo all around the world can be held held tight against the pier with as few as six lines.
Our faith is like those mooring lines. It’s solid. Our faith connects the spiritual solidly into the natural. It pulls those spiritual truths into the physical world so they become reality in our own lives.
The thing is those mooring lines area heavy. They are too big for one man to move around the deck of the ship by himself. It takes a team of guys and some very powerful winches to move those lines around the decks of the ships.
Then there’s the problem of getting those heavy lines across to the dock where they can be attached to the bollards to hold the ship in place. It’s not like you can just throw a six inch diameter rope.
So what they do is tie a smaller rope to the mooring line and throw that across. The smaller line is called a “heaving line” and has a special knot at the end called a monkey’s fist. The monkey’s fist gives it some weight and makes it much easier to throw longer distances.
Then the guys on the dock pull on the heaving line to get to the heavier mooring line, which they in turn place over a bollard on the dock.
Hope is like those heaving lines. It connects us to our faith, bridges the gap between the faith that brings spiritual realities into being and our limited belief in the natural.
Heaving lines won’t hold the ship to the dock. They’re far too small. That’s not even their function.
In the same way hope won’t make spiritual truths manifest in the physical. But that’s OK because that’s what faith does.
Hope is still vitally important, though. Because we need it in order to realize our faith. Remember Hebrews 11:1 above? It’s pre-faith.
Hebrew Word For Hope
I find it interesting that the Old Testament word for Hope is תקוה tiqwa; literally, a cord (as an attachment); figuratively, expectancy:— expectation ((- ted)), hope, live, thing that I long for.
The literal meaning of that Hebrew word is “a cord.” It’s like God had the picture of a ship and heaving lines in mind when he created hope in the very beginning.
The True Power of Hope
Why is hope so powerful and enduring? Because it is anchored in God, his word and his promises.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.— Hebrews 6:19-20
Hope will endure because God endures. Hope is connected to (and connects us to) His very presence in heaven. Therefore it connects us to God’s presence.
True Biblical hope is an incredibly powerful tool for our walk with God. It bridges the gap when our faith isn’t all it could be and keep us connected to him.
They say when you can’t run, you walk. When you can’t walk you crawl. And when you can’t crawl, when you can’t do that, someone will cary you.
There may be an area in your life where your faith isn’t fully developed yet, where you haven’t seen the manifestation of the thing you long for in your life. I want to encourage you, take hope. Hold on to hope.
Even if you are all the way down at the end of the line, cling to that monkey’s fist and don’t let go. That hope is connected to the very throne room of God himself. Your ship WILL come in. Your faith will grow. That thing will become manifest if only you refuse to despair of hope.
I want to close with this:
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.— Romans 15:13
By trusting God and his promises we begin to have peace in our lives which brings joy. And in that trusting is also powerfully confident hope. are you going to grab onto it today?