And yet, that's how I've often felt about hope. "It's pretty and shiny and lovely,... but what is it exactly?"
I'm in the process of doing a lot of study about hope in preparation for a new book. And as I've read the Scriptures that ring with hope, I've fallen in love with that word. Turns out hope is not nearly as trivial or sentimental a gift as I thought it was. In fact, it's just as necessary to godly living as it's counterparts--faith and love.
Hope isn't just the good feeling that accompanies the more substantial necessities of our Christian walk; it's more like the cane we must often lean on as we traverse a particularly difficult or daunting part of the path. It's that which makes it possible to even move forward. Sure, truth shines it's light on the path ahead, but hope sets us on our feet so we can walk forward in that light.
Think you don't need hope? Still think it's just one of those little extras that sounds nice but isn't really necessary? Think again.
Consider this passage from the depths of Jeremiah:
"But they will say:
We will continue to follow our plans,
and each of us will continue
to act according to the stubborness
of his evil heart."
Do you see the potential danger of opting out of hope? Did you pick up on the vital role hope plays in obedience and successful living?
If we don't have hope, we are more prone to continue in our waywardness. We're quite likely to continue down the wrong path. When we mistakenly think there is no hope, the enemy has us right where he wants us.
To have hope is to believe that things can change, that I can change. To be without hope is to give in to the futility of our own thinking, our bad behavior, and our despondent emotions.
According to the Bible, our hope lies completely in Jesus Christ. He is the source of our hope. He is our walking cane when the path ahead seems totally unnavigable. He is the one who enables us, through that mysterious and and somewhat ethereal thing we call hope, to get up and walk forward in the right direction.
Without hope in Christ we'll choose to continue on our "merry" way with our own plans, but with hope in Christ we can overcome addictions, break free from bondage, restore what has been lost, become someone new, and develop new and healthy habits. We can. We absolutely can.
So take a second look at the gift of hope. It's not just a sweet little gift with a lovely little name to be placed upon your shelf. It's more like a vital and useful piece of equipment that can make a huge difference in your life.
May your day be filled with hope!