There is a difference between wishful human hope in the natural realm that has a possibility of un-fulfilment or failure compared to the confident expectation and definite guarantee of God’s plans being accomplished. For example, we hope we will pass the exam yet the Bible definition has as its foundation the certainty and promises of the Word of God, the confident expectation that “Those who hope in [God] will not be disappointed…[for] He cannot lie…” (Isa 49:23; Heb 6:18,19). What God has done in the past, and is now doing through Christ, gives us confidence to expect what He has said will come to pass in the future with positive outcomes (Prov 23:18; 2 Cor 1:10). This confidence that God is the source of our hope is like a helmet protecting our mind (1 Thes 5:8; 1 Tim 1:1; Tit 3:4-7; 1 Pet 1:21). Those outside Christ have no such confident assurance or hope (Eph 2:12; 1 Thes 4:13).
Hope is an optimistic expectation of a positive outcome of what we have yet to enter into (Rom 8:23-25). Faith is the means by which we obtain that for which we hope (Heb 11:1).
Real hope is anchored in the promises of God
a reason to live, with anticipation the best is yet to come, including the full outworking of our salvation (Gal 5:5; Col 1:5; 1 Thes
4:13-18; Tit 2:11-14;
1 Pet 1:3-5; 1 Jn 3:2,3).
We may despair and feel like giving up when experiencing overwhelming hardships, delays or setbacks, but by seeing the overall eternal picture of “all things working for our good if we love God” we are helped to retain our hope – ‘which does not disappoint’ – so don’t throw away your confidence (Job 23:10; Ps 31:24, 42:5; Rom 5:2-5, 8:28; Heb 10:35). When your hope is running low, accept the mystery of suffering, misfortune or wrong. Don’t try to understand or explain it – accept it. Deliberately put your trust in God to protect you by His mighty power from now until eternity, confident of the sure foundation – that God keeps promises and they are in the process of being fulfilled. When Christ was crucified, His followers were devastated, (they had not understood what He had told them), yet, His death was necessary to provide salvation for humanity. Looking from a merely physical perspective they thought He would deliver them from Roman control, yet God’s plan was spiritual freedom encompassing all who have believed in Christ since His crucifixion (Mt 16:21; Lk 24:13-21; Act 1:6; Rom 8:2). The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts now (as a deposit of what is to come) giving stability, power and incentive to live for Christ (1 Cor 6:19; Phil 3:12-14; Col 1:27; Heb 6:11,18,19). “No-one whose hope is in you will be put to shame” (Ps 25:3).
Faith, hope and love are intertwined and are at the heart of the Christian life (1 Cor 13:13; 1 Thes 1:3). Our relationship with the God begins with faith, believing that our sins are forgiven by the work of Christ. Hope grows as we learn what God has prepared for us to enter into; this in turn gives the ability to love and reach out to others so they may also experience salvation and be recipients of divine blessing too.
We are wise to “set our hope fully on Christ” (1 Pet 1:13). Paul prayed that his readers would have their hearts enlightened to see the full hope to which they were called (Eph 1:18,19). The Bible says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet 3:15).
While having an uplifting positive mental attitude is desirable, hope is not positive thinking which is inward or human centered, rather hope looks beyond ourselves; nor is it wishful thinking or presumption which has no secure basis for any optimism. False hope is based on fantasy or an extremely unlikely outcome.