My Hope, by Rene Milner
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”
You ever think about that set of lyrics? Recently I have been struck by the way we change words and meanings over time. I remember debating with my father about words I would commonly use that offended him. To his generation they were offensive, to mine they were slang and to my children’s generation they are common usage. It seems that meanings can change over time. The problem is that God does not change over time. When we use a word like love, what was the original intention? What is it in common usage? When a Christian says “love” it means something different than when a non-Christian person says it. Don’t believe me? Try saying “I love you” to a non-Christian boss or coworker. Do you love them as Christ loves them? You should. Do they understand it that way? I doubt it.
Why the big deal about meanings? I think it lies at the heart of understanding God’s Word. Too often we read the current version of our Bible and assume we know what God is saying. We read one passage and make a statement of “fact” about what God is trying to convey. Many have learned to take it a step further and compare with similar parts of scripture. This is good. I would encourage everyone to take an even further step. Get yourself a good Hebrew/Greek dictionary and a concordance if you don’t have one. Learn how to use it and every time you spend a little time alone with God in His word, pick a word and ask what it truly means. Search through the scriptures and find all the occurrences. See how it was used. Compare usages in different translations. (I love to use the King James Version because it uses words that I would not normally use and that automatically makes me curious about the word) I know, this seems like a lot of work. Why would I ask you to do all this digging when you could just ask someone or pay someone to do the digging for you? Well, for one just like any exercise, it makes you stronger. You gain better understanding that you can apply in more study, more learning of Him, and more sharing with others. I “hope” God wants us to draw closer to Him and share understanding of Him with others.
Having said all of this I have been pondering the word “hope”. I would argue that for most of us, whether Christian or not, we think of that word as a strong desire for something. A longing. I really want something to happen. Is that what I put all my trust and faith in? Think about it. Jesus is our hope. Does that mean that if all the cards fall right and all the stars happen to line up and I do all the right things that I will maybe have good things happen to me in this life and the next? Or maybe I am hopeful that there even is a next. Well, our usage of the word in modern day is more like “wish” than anything else. Curiously the dictionaries from today still carry the idea of a confident expectation of the things to come. This is similar but softer than the older dictionaries but I would argue different than how we currently use the word. When you hope for something, do you know that it will come to pass or do you just have a desire that it might?
When the Bible uses the word hope it is a confident thing not some wishy washy desire that a thing might happen but a patient waiting in the confidence that the thing hoped for will happen. In the old testament usages, it is used as trust, wait, expectation, place of safety, and confidence. One usage can mean a cord or attachment, like the thing that is hoped for is physically attached to the person/people with the hope and cannot be disconnected. In the new testament it is exclusively “a primary word (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstract or concrete) or confidence: – faith, hope”. There are some words that I have grown to reserve the usage of. Hope will become one of these for me. “Awesome” belongs to God. “Love” is for things I will die for and “hope” is for those things that I will confidently and patiently wait for. All the rest is wishing.
I “hope” you have read this far and I wish this might be useful to you. To God alone be the Glory.