Hope: Part I

‘but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,’

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)

1 Peter 3:15 is a verse often used when talking about apologetics; providing a reasoned defence of our faith but always doing so ‘with gentleness and respect’. Or evangelism, making sure we are ‘always prepared’ to give a reason for our faith. There’s loads of goodness and truth in this verse but one little word can help us change our entire outlook on hope. Peter writes about a defence for the ‘…hope that is IN you…’. Not, as we might recall the verse, ‘the hope that you have’. There is a massive difference between something we have and something that is IN us.

There are days when I have hope and days where I don’t. Honestly, that’s how it is. Somedays I feel unshakable, nothing could ever get in the way, God is good and all will work out. Other days I can’t see how I’m going to make it to the weekend, let alone see a resolution to the challenges I’m currently facing. That’s life.

Or is it?

Hope as a feeling or emotion is pathetic. We hope this happens or hope to get this for our birthday; what does that mean? How does that help us? To simply have hope means that sometimes we don’t have hope. This fickle hope doesn’t help us at all. It changes due to our circumstances or emotions and often leaves us when we need it the most. To have hope IN us, however, is something entirely different.

To have hope IN us means it is not affected by our surroundings, circumstances or emotions but rather effects those things. It is what defines us. It is what people notice in us. True hope sticks out in today’s world. Not a shaky, limited hope, like ‘I hope its sunny today,’ or ‘I hope I get that for my birthday,’ but a solid and a violent hope. A hope that changes us and the people around us. It is not shaken by circumstances but rather shakes them. Hope IN us is steadfast and unchanging because it is not linked to circumstance but to God and His Character. We are called to be people of hope in an often hopeless world. Our hope cannot be robbed from us because it is IN us. It is us.

The world needs hope and we are called to be a people of hope. Here are six characteristics of People of Hope:

  1. Hope lives aware of future realities – God’s promises are real to us and we live certain that he will complete the good work he has begun in us. The current circumstances cannot change that.
  2. Hope praises amidst uncertainty – We get to praise and celebrate even at the darkest moments because we trust in who God is. We no longer allow our emotions to determine our mood. Hope always praises in uncertain times.
  3. Hope lives in God’s promises, not just aware of them – Hope is the reality of God’s promises in our lives. Not an abstract knowledge of them but a deep conviction that He will do what He has promised. It is solid, concrete. It is strong enough to build our lives on because it is based on God and His promises.
  4. Hope has confidence in the destination – People of hope can travel through the darkest of times because they know where they are going. Hebrews 11:1 says; ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ Worldly hope is based on nothing and can be destroyed. Our hope doesn’t just lead to nice feelings or comfort but is actually the beginning of faith.
  5. Hope is a confidence in His nature – Our hope is unshakable because God is unshakable.We are not confident in ourselves or luck or fate, but confident in Him.
  6. Hope sees dreams fulfilled in God – Proverbs 13:12 says, ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.’ Hope lives in the assurance of breakthrough, however long it takes. Hope allows the freedom to dream, even in the valley. Hope gives us life.

To have hope IN us not only makes us stand out, causing people to ask what’s different about us, but it is the only way to live fulfilled in God. The world needs this kind of hope. Hope that is unwavering in all circumstances and cannot be taken away because it is a part of who we are. It means we are not scared of ‘hopeless’ situations because we don’t believe in them. The world needs People of Hope. It bold, it’s brave and it’s life changing. But it’s what we’re called to be!

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