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Because He Paid the Price




Hope

Many people, and ironically including many who should know better, misuse and miscommunicate the word "hope." But what are we talking about when we speak of hope?

As with so much of language, our time seemingly has lost what the word means. Usage has taken precedence. The word has become equal with "wish." I hope I get this job, please this girfriend, win this eBay auction. So that, when one sees in the Bible the word "hope," it is thought of in these same terms. Which is unfortunate.

Because it doesn't mean that at all. Whether in a secular or a Biblical context, no one when speaking of something really important uses the word "hope" in that way. When a person is about the jump off a building and we say they have no hope, do we mean they have no wishes? That they lack a longing for anything? No. Something much more meaningful. We are referring to something very different, something more eternal. Similarly, when a woman gives her newborn up for adoption to give the child hope, we mean something special. That the child will have a chance it would not otherwise have.

In the Bible as well as outside it, hope is a kind of summary word for four things: meaning, identity, purpose and value. Everyone wants these things. But what are they? Meaning could also be called significance. Why am I here? Identity, that is, belonging, acceptance. Oh, how desparately we want that! Purpose, yes indeed, a point, a mission, a task. Heartfelt, that. And value, that is, worth, creds, acknowledgement. One of the most urgent of human needs.

The whole world yearns for these things. And when one has them, they have hope. The book of Romans may contain the most instances of this use of the word. "...that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom 15:4).