Hope: A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
In today’s world, we have lost the underlying power of the word hope. We use this word to talk about wishful thinking regarding temporary circumstances. But the biblical definition of hope is one of confident, expectant waiting that is focused not on situations but on a person—the all-trustworthy, all-able God.
In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words most often used that translate as hope: yakhal and qavah. Although these two words have different technical meanings, they both center on the idea of waiting, which is the heart of biblical hope.
Biblical hope is different than our modern-day, secular use of the word. Hope is not optimism: choosing to see how any situation could possibly work out well. Hope is not merely wishing: wanting something that cannot or probably will not happen. No, biblical hope is much more than that because it is not focused on circumstances.
Actually, we see the words yakhal and qavah most often used in the Bible when people were in some of the most challenging situations. The words meaning hope appear over 40 times in the book of Psalms alone!
Then, in the New Testament, we see how the early followers of Jesus expressed this same sort of hope—this same expectant waiting on God with His Son, Jesus, through the use of the Greek word “elpis.” Elpis is used to describe the anticipation of waiting and specifically focuses on a person—the risen Jesus who overcame death.
The ultimate time of hope, the ultimate time of anticipation and waiting, was the three days Jesus was in the tomb.
Jesus’ conquering of the grave made Him the ultimate mark of our hope in God, for it reminds us that the same God that resurrected Jesus is the One we can put our confidence in and expectantly wait on in our own lives.
It is in times of despair, when nothing is going right, and it seems like all hope is lost that biblical hope pushes us to turn away from our temporary, earthly perspective and look back onto God and His eternal faithfulness. And when we look back with assurance on the ways God has already proven Himself faithful, we are reminded that we can continue to look forward with hope in the waiting.
To learn more on Biblical hope and to access kid-friendly resources to teach your children about hope this Christmas, visit bellevue.org/family and download the Advent Celebration booklet from Fight for Your Family.