3 Things I’ve Learned About Hope

The empty tomb.

photo: Raye Wortel

It seems fitting, this day after Easter, to talk with you about hope and what the hollow (and hallowed) tomb of Jesus means in terms of that hope.

The truth is, you cannot talk about the empty tomb of our risen Christ without talking about hope.

The emptiness of the tomb is one of the most hope-filled parts of our faith.

It’s emptiness is utterly FULL of the power, promises, and provision of Jesus who said, “I will die, be buried, conquer death, rise, and live forever, and I’m doing it so you who believe in me, can be with me forever too.”

But sometimes hope gets muddied in our everyday walking around life. The definition and aim of our hope shifts to earthly and temperamental things, leaving us with an uncertain “hope-so” kind of hope.

Today, I wanted to share with you a few verses which help me gauge where my hope is heading. Some of these verses I have clung to in my darkest days. They have taught me much about hope. And so, I pray they will help you too.

But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7

What I’ve learned: Regularly question what your hope looks for.

When my son rides in the car with me, he complains that I look around too much. “Mom!” he says. “Keep your eyes on the road!” He thinks it’s dangerous to look around, and by doing so, I’m risking an accident. Of course, being focused only on what’s in front of me while driving isn’t practical, but he’ll find out for himself when (and if, ahem) he gets behind the wheel.

But in some ways he’s right. There is a risk to looking around. So much around us pulls our eyes and attention away from what’s forward. Life, like a car, will start to drift off the narrow road when our gaze lingers outside of what’s ahead.

What am I looking for? What’s caught my eye? Where have I placed my hope? In essence, David asked these questions. He understood how short and frail life is and how necessary it is to keep our expectations on God alone. It’s good to ask God where our focus is so we can confidently say, “My hope is in you.”

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

What I’ve learned: Sometimes you have to preach hope to yourself.

When was the last time you gave yourself a pep talk? Can’t remember? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And that’s why Psalm 42:11 is such an important verse to know to help us stay focused on our heavenly hope. In this verse, the psalmist asked himself two questions, and in doing so, did one powerful thing:

He challenged his own sense of discouragement.

He didn’t wallow in it. Nor did he question its fairness. With a couple of questions, he acknowledged his discouragement and challenged himself to look beyond the obviousness of his downcast spirit and focus his hope on God instead.

It’s the kind of kick-in-the-pants pep talk we need to keep ourselves above our discouraging circumstances.

Interestingly, after questioning his mood, he demanded himself to hope in God. He knew God would deliver him at some point and he would have an opportunity to praise Him for it. Now that’s confident expectation!

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. Hebrews 6:19-20a

What I’ve learned: Trust in a hope you cannot see.

When is an anchor most useful?

Is it when it’s coiled and ready, in full view, on the bow of a ship, or when it’s been plunged, out of sight, into the depths of a raging sea?

In other words…when you are being tossed by life’s storms, would you rather see the anchor and know what it could do, or would you rather trust that the unseen anchor below the surface is doing what it was made to do?

Jesus is our Anchor, and though we do not have the ability to see Him yet, we can know He is active and in touch with our hurts and struggles.

Hebrews 6:20 says Jesus is our Forerunner. A forerunner is someone who comes before especially as a sign of the coming of another.

As our forerunner, Jesus enters behind the curtain into the inner sanctuary. He is our advocate and messenger who runs ahead announcing us before God. It’s amazing to read these words and know Jesus is doing this for us, and yet…

We’re stuck living in front of the curtain.

And this is where hope and the empty tomb come crashing into our hearts. If we are to survive on the this side of the curtain, if we are to live on heartbeat away from the inner sanctuary of God, then we must cling to the hope of Jesus. We have to question what our hope looks for, we have to encourage ourselves in hope, and we have to believe that poor eyes, filled with hope, make for a deeper faith.

What does hope mean to you?

How or what verses do you use to keep your hope on Jesus?

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