The Real Definition of Hope
Call me un-American, but I could never like the Disney movie, Pinocchio, not even when I was a little kid. I don’t like the premise, the characters, the plot, or the music. I know. Un-American. And I’m afraid I really dislike the Pinocchio song, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” that is Disney’s theme song. Here’s the first stanza:
“When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you…”
The lyrics go on to say that “Fate is kind…” and “Fate steps in and sees you through…” Hogwash. I pity those who believe in Fate, a nebulous concept that has no stake in the future, no sentience, and no ultimate purpose. Wishing on a star is about the most senseless activity I can think of.
The real problem is that these days, many people equate the word hope with wishes. In reality, these two words are antonyms. They are completely different ideas. A wish is a daydream. Hope is a vision. When you wish, you’re all wrapped up in desire, longing, and appetite. When you hope, you’re wrapped up in contentment, belonging, and satisfaction.
We Might Have Hope
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
Hope is a powerful incentive to study the Scriptures. This verse refers to the quote from Psalm 69:3 that preceded it, but also to all of the Old Testament writings. Christians tend to concentrate on the New Testament and to neglect the Old Testament. Studying the New Testament without the Old Testament is like studying American court rulings without referring to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Hope isn’t wishful thinking. Wishful thinking is saying, “I ‘hope’ my new friend will call me.” Hope is saying, “I have hope because my new friend called me.” Wishful thinking is uncertain, unreliable, and a source of anxiety. Hope is joyful, grateful, and a source of peace.
This series of posts was prompted by Ephesians 3:4: “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ….” Paul had the great privilege and even greater responsibility for “the stewardship of God’s grace,” and the way he and the other New Testament writers chose to communicate God’s grace, in addition to teaching others directly, was to write letters to the churches. These letters that circulated among the believers were eventually compiled into the New Testament. The Scriptures were inspired by God for the edification of the kingdom.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
II Tim 3:16-17
Hold onto your hope, my friends. It’s not wishful thinking.
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