When you woke up today, what was the first thing you hoped for?
Maybe it was for a better night of sleep. Or a pain-free day. Or a traffic-free commute.
Maybe you hoped for a successful presentation at work. Or perhaps you just hoped that someone had left you something for breakfast!
Maybe, by grace, you hoped to please the Lord with everything you thought, said, and did. Perhaps you hoped for opportunities to minister or witness to lost and hurting people.
Everybody is motivated by hope. Human beings are not like animals, living moment-by-moment by instinct. No matter who we are or what we have experienced, we live by hope.
As I’ve studied the Scriptures and counseled hopeless and hopeful people, I’ve concluded that there are three basic elements to hope:
- Hope begins with an assessment.
- Hope morphs into an expectation.
- Hope requires an object.
ASSESSMENT: Hope begins when you and I assess our life and come to the conclusion that we need ____ [fill in the blank] to be satisfied.
Our assessments can be accurate and true, grounded in the Word of God and confirmed by the body of Christ. At the same time, our assessments can be wildly misleading, informed by sinful motives and ungodly influences.
EXPECTATION: Once we have assessed what we think we need, we then begin to search for it and pursue it with hopeful expectancy.
If I assess that being healthy will equal happiness, I will expect a diet or gym routine to result in happiness. The same is true with money or career success. If I assess that spirituality will bring me satisfaction, then I expect God (or another deity or religion) to provide that for me.
OBJECT: Hope only works, of course, if we have something, or someone, to deliver the happiness and satisfaction that we’re expecting. In the above examples, it could be a diet, a personal trainer, a promotion, or a sense of spirituality.
If we put our hope in an object that fails to deliver, we will lose hope or blame that object for not being good. But if we put our hope in something that cannot fail, we will only grow stronger in hope and confidence.
As Christians, we know what we should answer: Jesus Christ is our hope!
Yes, and amen! Nothing could be more true!
But can we please be honest? I know I don’t always march to the beat of that drum. My assessments can be misguided, my expectations selfish, and my objects often in things other than the Lord.
I would encourage you to take some time and dig into the reflection questions below. Evaluate your hopefulness (or hopelessness) and root yourself again in the Word of God and the person of Jesus.
- What is your current assessment of what will bring your soul peace and satisfaction?
- Is your evaluation rooted in the Word of God or influenced by the world?
- How has Christ recently proven himself to be a reliable object of hope?
- How have the things of this world recently proven to be a poor source for your hope?