April 2, 1996
A small boy spies a bright red bicycle displayed in a store window. After a longing gaze, he carefully notes the price and rushes home. He dumps dimes and quarters out of his ceramic pig and asks his father if he has enough. Of course, he does not. His father calculates the remainder and writes it down as a goal. The boy hopes with all his heart that when he has saved enough money, the bicycle will still be in the store.
His sister comes home from school. She opens the front door and catches the faint scent of cinnamon. “Oh, I hope that is what I think it is,” she exclaims, “and I hope I can have one.”
Her mother answers from the kitchen, “Yes, it is your favorite — cinnamon buns. As soon as you come through the kitchen door, I will give you one with a glass of milk.”
Two longings. Two hopes. The first is a “I-hope-so” wish. The second is a “I-know-so” certainty. The first child tries to make his hope happen. The second knows hers is already prepared for her and will definitely be hers. Someone who loves her has made a promise.
The Bible uses the word “hope” more than 150 times. Most uses refer to the second kind of hope, which is far more than the enticing scent of a delicious cinnamon bun. The Bible says our hope is eternal life based on the love of God. Because Christ died for us, He has prepared a place for us with Him. We will have new bodies and be like Jesus.
In this life, we catch the sweet scent in the promises of God, but until we go through heaven’s door, our hope is unseen. As Romans 8 says, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?”
The foundation of our hope is God’s love and His many promises. God proved His love by sending His Son. He says, “Whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Psalms 147:11 says, “The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”
As for our heavenly hope, The Apostle Paul wrote this prayer: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” In another place he talked about “the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven...”
Paul also said we have “a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.”
Again, God promises eternal life so those who trust Him can consider it a sure hope. In fact, the Bible says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” We can “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
Finally, as if heaven were not enough, we also hope for personal perfection. John writes, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”
Hope is incentive to live for God. Think of it. The boy who wanted the bicycle may get discouraged and stop saving his money because his hope is uncertain. However, his sister’s hope is a sure thing. She does not want to ruin it before she gets to the kitchen by being willfully disobedient to the one who made the promise.
Our hope is the same. Besides enabling us to live with expectation, even catch a faint whiff of it in the air as we go on our way toward it, hope gives us a God-ward focus and changes the way we live.