Everyday I am confronted by “hope.” Sure, I “hope” my car starts or I “hope” the air conditioning in my office is working when I arrive or I “hope” I have time to write a sermon. That’s probably the more common way we use the word, the “garden variety” version of “hope.”
This isn’t helpful, though. It is very common in English to use the word this way. Like, “I hope it doesn’t rain today.” Or, “I was hoping to see you here.” Is this really “hope”? And if these things don’t happen, then…well, not much happens. So it rains. So I don’t see my friend. Life goes on. And I’m on to the next thing. I don’t think we really “hope” this way.
The church I serve has it in its name, “Christ Our Hope” church. I didn’t choose that name (it chose me, so to speak, back in February 2017). We take the name from the New Testament book of Colossians, chapter 1, verse 29, where the apostle Paul is explaining the wonder that has come to the unbelieving world, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Every day, I walk into my office underneath the name of Christ and the concept of hope. I am regularly struck by it and since I’ve been in this role, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the whole idea of “hope.”
- If someone asked you “Tell me about: hope,” what would you say?
The question is no joke because at some point, each of us is confronted with a situation that makes us want to seize it. We might “hope” it doesn’t rain but in the moment when I’m sitting in the oncologist’s office and he says to my wife, “You have Stage 1 or 2 breast cancer” rain is not relevant. Not even relevant at all. If what I was hoping in is suddenly completely irrelevant, was that hope? Because, as sure as shooting, I’m “hoping” in something else entirely! But, is that even “hope”? Surely “hope” that my wife survives cancer is more accurate than “hope” it doesn’t rain today! Right? I’m not so sure.
Is it appropriate for us to hope in things that will not survive the grave or that will not help us once we are beyond it? I doubt we will ever be able to fully escape the common use of the word. Still, I tend to believe if I am “hoping” in something that will expire with my own death or that will not help me in the presence of Christ in heaven, I have cast my anchor in the wrong place.
People don’t normally have “hope” in things in such a way that when those things don’t deliver what they promise, people can deal with it. Following? Because we “hope” in things large and small, when those things fail (and they always do) we are undone.
Being undone is the surest sign of a wrongly placed hope. Been undone, lately?