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The Easter Difference: Hope as Confident Expectation

April 5, 2018 • Life for Leaders

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…

Ephesians 1:18-20

 

We read a lot about hope in the Bible. And when we do, it’s quite possible, maybe even likely, that we’ll misunderstand what we read.

A person on the seashore looking out to the setting sun.Why? Because our use of the word “hope” differs from the biblical usage. For us, hope is wishing for something we want whether it is likely or not. For example, when the weather report predicts a 100% chance of rain for tomorrow, that means it’s likely I will not be able to take the hike I had planned. But I can still hope for dry weather even if it’s not reasonable to expect it.

Biblical hope is different. It’s not simply a matter of emotion. Nor is it wishful thinking or a positive attitude. Christian hope is absolutely not believing in something which we know—deep down in our hearts—will never happen. On the contrary, biblical hope includes deep conviction. It is confident expectation. It is an attitude toward the future that is based solidly on what we can know today.

What is the basis of Christian hope? First of all, it’s the very character of God, revealed to us in manifold ways, most of all in Jesus Christ. Thus, in Ephesians 1, Paul prays that we might know God better so that we might know hope better. In particular, the more we grasp the wonder of God’s calling, the more we realize all that his calling entails, the more we will be people of confident hope.

Moreover, our hope is rooted in the fact of the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we know that God has won the battle. Sin and death have been defeated. Our future is assured. Thus, as it says in 1 Peter 1:3, God “has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Our hope is alive because Jesus is alive.

This does not mean, of course, that everything we hope for in this life will happen. We can hope for healing that doesn’t come as we had wished. We can hope for a world in which God’s justice prevails over evil, even if it seems that evil is winning. The resurrection does not guarantee that everything we desire will be given to us. Yet, it does guarantee the ultimate victory of God, the uniting of all things in Christ, the reality of a new heaven and a new earth. Even when life is hard, even when we wrestle with disappointment, our confident hope for the future sustains us and fills our hearts with “an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8).

Something to Think About:

How do you see the difference between hope as we speak of it and biblical hope?

To what extent do you feel confident about God’s future?

Does this confidence make any difference in how you live now?

Something to Do:

Ask the Lord to increase your hope, your confidence in his future. Then, be attentive to ways that God is answering this prayer.

Prayer:

Gracious God, thank you for the gift of confident hope. Thank you for the assurance that comes when I remember your mercy, your grace, your faithfulness. When my heart struggles with discouragement or despair, may I remember who you are and how you have called me to yourself. May I be inspired by the vision of your future. Thus, may I have hope, confident hope, in you. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Easter Resurrection: Life after Life after Death

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Ephesians

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