Use the space and finish this sentence, “My hope is built on nothing less than…”
How did you go? Was the outcome comfortable or uncomfortable, certain or uncertain, or is life so devoid of hope for you that you could not finish the sentence at all? Of course you may be one of those people who just “lives for the moment” and to hell with the future. Finishing a sentence on hope may be irrelevant to you but does not life without hope make you irrelevant.
I can think of few more important possessions than hope and few more sentences needing to be finished than, “My hope is built on nothing less than…”
Hope is a strange word because it is used in a couple of ways. “I hope my team wins the football” is a wishful thinking way of using the term. “Our hope is in the new car to get us to our destination”, suggests a level of certainty established on dependability.
I recognise any earthly illustration of hope is somewhat inadequate because wishful thinking may become a reality and what we think is dependable can let us down. Let me try another example. The hope of a person getting married is not built on wishful thinking. It is hope established upon the lived through proof of the reliability of the person you entering into marriage with. It’s when someone proves untrustworthy that a person loses confidence in hope. It would seem that hope, whether it is the wishful thinking kind or the more certain dependable kind, is predicated upon the level of trust a person can invest.
When the Bible uses the word “Hope” it is unreservedly confident. Hope in the Bible is not wishful thinking but certainty for the future predicated on the lived through proof of past trustworthiness. It may at first seem strange to think that history plays a crucial part in the establishment of hope but hope neglects history to its peril. In the same way a confident hope in marriage is established on the lived through evidence of a spouse’s historical reliability, so hope in the Bible is established on the evidence of God’s historical reliability. Trustworthiness in the past offers hope for the future. It is that ultimate reliability of God that spares a person in a context of hopelessness, despairing of hope altogether.
Now there is a cautionary note to the hope God offers. We don’t invest hope in our football team for brain surgery and we don’t invest hope in our car to fly us to Europe or sail us through the Bahamas. So we need to be careful not to invest hope in God for things that God has offered no promise for. For example, if we live rebelliously against God and suffer the consequence we should not complain that God has failed us. If we sin like it does not matter and discover later that it does, we ought not to blame God for where we find ourselves. If we live like fools lacking in wisdom or effort, the fault of our failure does not lie with God. And when we move God to the margins and death comes our way we should not complain that God has been unfair to allow us to die.
If we could silence our complaints against God for failing to do what he has never promised to do, perhaps we would discover the certainty of hope in what God has promised in Jesus Christ to do: offer forgiveness for the rebel, wisdom for the foolish and a resurrection to eternal life. Hope that rests on the dependable grace and mercy of God.
Edward Mote in 1834 finished the sentence in song, “My hope is built on nothing less… than Jesus’ love and righteousness” and the verse that carries these words concludes, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” We need never live without hope when Christ is ours!