Over the Christmas season you remember that I was wishing people a ‘Happy Christmas and a New Year filled with hope’. Hope as expressed in the Bible is different from the way in which we use that word in everyday language. The Christian meaning of hope is distinctive. You might say, ‘I hope it will be a nice day tomorrow.’ This is often a vague and uncertain hope based upon laws of meteorology. The Christian hope is based on the fact that Jesus died and rose again on that first Easter morning. As Peter puts it: ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead …’ (1 Peter 1 verse 3)
Grasp hold of hope
During one of our recent all-age services when singing a song with sign language actions, I discovered that the action for hope was a grabbing action with the hand – this is much easier to show than describe! However, what I realised from this was that hope is something that we actively need to hold onto. We cannot just assume that hope remains with us. In fact, I regularly pray for people that the Holy Spirit will continually fill them with hope. However, as Peter explains: ‘… he has given us new birth into a living hope … and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.’ (1 Peter 1 verse 3-4)
Faith nurtures hope
So hope is based on a past fact which gives us assurance in the present of our future inheritance and, unlike any earthly inheritance, our heavenly inheritance is secure and will not ‘perish, spoil or fade’.
As the writer to the Hebrews puts it: ‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.’