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The Value of Hope

by Dee Bowman
via Plain Talk, November 1977

The Scriptures have considerable to say on the subject of hope. And yet I am convinced that many of us are not enjoying and appreciating our hope as we should, simply out of a failure to really understand what it is and how it affects us.

Hope is that which reaches off into the future and attaches itself on to that which we both desire and expect to receive. It is not necessarily affected by externalities, but is a mental persuasion which, even in the face of extreme persecution or intense pain, remains strong and active. As such, it becomes at once a strong and vital force in fighting such things as discouragements, failures of various sorts, frustrations, even death itself. Is it any wonder that the Hebrew writer calls it "the anchor for the soul"?

Hope is composed of two ingredients -- desire and expectation. In the absence of either, there is no real hope. For instance, I may desire a thing which I cannot possibly expect to receive; such would not be hope. I may expect a thing which is not at all desirable; such, likewise, would not be hope. But when I greatly desire a thing and have a warm expectation of receiving that thing, that is hope. And what a blessing!

It is hope which keeps us on the right course. Just as an electronic homing signal keeps the pilot of the aircraft on course, our hope keeps us following the proper heading. It is our hope which gives us the point of fixation needed to "keep our bark aright." Without it we would not have the goal we need to look to.

Hope lightens our load. It is our hope which makes us unaware of even the hardest burden. The presence of hope makes it possible for us to overcome seemingly insuperable obstacles, It causes us to have a healthy disposition toward trials and hardships, too, giving us the fuel to overcome and the virtue to persevere. When a person can see the journey's end, the path toward it somehow seems far less severe. And even though the path may be strewn with obstacles of various sorts, hope makes it possible for us to see far less of them than we do the light at the end of the way.

And hope intensifies our desires, too. When we conclude that a thing is possible, we suddenly realize the strength to carry on so as to achieve the goal. In fact, our conviction becomes a far more workable tool once we have realized the possibility of success. Hope is like a "second wind" to an athlete who needs it to finish a long and difficult run. Is it any wonder that hope and faith are connected together (Cf. Hebrews 11:1)?

Hope provides confidence. In II Peter 1:4 Peter says, "Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might become partakers of the divine nature...." Notice that it is the promises which provide us with the confidence we need. What a balm for the weary!

And hope is our connection to heaven. Without it we would not be able to visualize the joy that awaits the faithful. Truly, "hope springs eternal"!