There’s a wacky Christmas song with these lyrics: “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do . . .” (sorry for that ear worm). This is a child’s wish list. Totally bonkers. Impractical in the extreme. Ruinously expensive. Not to mention dangerously heavy and, um, a slightly less-than-cuddly pet! Sure. This is a wild example, but this kind of wishing is often how we think of hoping – the stuff of dreams, bonkers, impractical, expensive, sometimes dangerously heavy.
The major problem with hope that is that flimsy, is that we then read about hope in God’s Word and have a tendency to equate our form of hoping with God’s divine gift of hope. The two, should it be necessary to point out, are unrelated, like mushy peas and steel girders. As Paul wrote to the church at Rome: “Our hope [in Christ] is not a disappointing fantasy. . .” (Rom. 5:5, TPT).
So, how are we to perceive ‘hope’ accurately, according to Scripture? I suggest we view the hope we read there as an integral part of our Salvation. One of the cornucopias of gifts included. One of the incredibly strong, lasting, and glorious gifts. Or as Peter describes it: “a living, energetic hope” (1 Pet. 1:3, TPT). Peter then confidently attaches this hope to our inheritance that “can never perish, never be defiled, and never diminish.” (1 Pet. 1:3, TPT).
We will likely continue to say silly things like: “I hope I get an ‘A’ on that test.” (despite not studying). Or “I hope there’s a brand-new car in the garage.” (despite not having a garage or money). Whatever floats your boat, as they say. But let’s not lump that ‘hoping’ with the amazing, enduring, hefty, gift God offers. Rather, think of Salvation’s hope more in terms of the mighty cable on a construction-site crane that is capable of lifting many tons of steel high into the air.
As today’s global news insists on assailing our senses, and we are tempted, in the natural, to wonder if doom and destruction are imminent, and God’s offer seems a fleeting dream, let’s ponder the shocking statement in Isaiah 55:8,9, TPT: “My thoughts about mercy are not like your thoughts, and my ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so my ways and my thoughts are higher than yours.” It comes down to this for me: He’s God and I’m not (and that, my friends, is an infinitely good thing for you and for me!) Now back to more happy pondering of Isaiah. PD