"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3)
We all know what hope is. It’s an anticipation for something better. Whether you are excited or anxious for something, it is a longing for something better and it is a crucial emotion for human life.
Hope during cancer treatments. Hope during the loss of a job. Hope in a marriage that is struggling. Or on a much less serious note, hope that the Sooners will win the national
championship this year. Hope drives us forward. In other words, hope, as we typically think about it, is a desire for some future thing which we are uncertain. That is not the way Peter, or the rest of the New Testament writers, think about hope.
Biblical hope is something more than that. Biblical hope is about waiting and expectation. In the Bible there are three Hebrew words translated as hope. The main two are yakhal (ya-k-all) which means simply, “to wait for.” Like in the story of Noah, Noah had to wait for (yakhal) the flood waters to recede. The other one is qavah (ka-vah) which also means “to wait,” but it is more associated with the feeling of tension and expectation while you wait.
But waiting for what?
In the book of Psalms, you’ll find these words written over 40 different times. And almost always the “what” that people are waiting for is actually a “who.” It’s God. So Biblical hope is almost always based on a person and not on changing circumstances. In fact, for most of the Biblical writers there is never any evidence that their circumstances will get better, but they choose to hope anyways. James writes this in James 5: 10-11: “Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."
So, it’s God’s past faithfulness that motivates hope for the future. You look forward by looking backward. And what you hope in is God’s character and a resurrected Savior. That’s why Peter says in 1 Peter 1 vs 13 to "Hope fully in the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
He does not mean we should desire it and be uncertain of it. The coming of Christ is a matter of complete confidence for Peter and all the writers in the New Testament. Just as they witnessed the resurrection and spent time with Jesus after he resurrected, they are sure that he will return and that we will attain resurrection. That is real hope! Hope that is intensely and fully confident that Jesus Christ is coming again with grace and new life for his people.
- Boo Scott, National Park Church Lead Minister