The Anatomy of Hope
What does hope look like? What is its structure, composition, or framework? What is hope made of?
Hope is a combination of desire for something AND the expectation of receiving it. I’m not talking about “Christmas wishful thinking” but hope that encourages us to embrace the belief that better days are possible. Hope motivates us to preserve and continue moving forward.
We chose to create this series on hope because hope is what the world needs most right now. When we began the series in October, there was no war between Israel and Palestine. With regards to mass shootings in America, as of October 31, a total of 621 people have been killed and 2,126 other people have been injured in 520 shootings. Political divisiveness worsens polarizing communities, leaders, and even families. Can hope be kept alive?
What does hope look like?
Is it any wonder that the majority of U.S. adults agree the nations’ future looks bleak?
A majority of adults (62%) disagree with the statement, “our children are going to inherit a better world than we did,” and 63% disagree with the statement, “I feel our country is on the path to being stronger than ever.” More than 3/4 of adults (76%) said that the future of our nation is a significant source of stress in their lives, while 68% said this is the lowest point in our nation’s history that we can remember.
Two in three adults (66%) said the culture’s current political climate is a significant source of stress in their lives. Further, three in five adults quote (60%) said that the current social divisiveness in the nation causes them stress. Slightly more than three in five adults 62% reported that the racial climate in the US is a significant source of stress in their lives.
Are these sources of stress going to go away? Absolutely not! And these stressors are larger than us and out of our control. In this environment, we are expected to manage the challenge of daily living and providing for our families–feeding, clothing, and housing. We search out ways to balance the stresses of life while maintaining healthy relationships, and personal “sanity”. There enters the need to cultivate our hope because when we cease to hope, we jeopardize our future.
Faith or hope?
How does our faith work with hope? Can both occupy the same space? In my reading, I came across a statement that helped me better understand the relationship between the two. “While faith is a function of the intellect, hope is an act of the will.”  In other words, what we know about God—His goodness, His greatness, and His promises—should cause us to confidently believe God. Hope moves us forward as we act on our faith in God (Heb. 11:1).
Hope allows us to look beyond what we can see.
Abraham, the Father of Nations, questioned when God would send him an heir, yet Abraham is known to “hope against hope” (Rom. 4:8). In other words, Abraham did not walk by sight but by faith in what God had promised him. His hope was built on the promises of God. Therefore, Abraham persevered.
The Apostle Paul’s faith in Christ (relational) and hope in Christ (motivational) kept him moving forward despite “beatings, in perils, in weariness, and in pain” (2 Cor. 11:23-27). Paul’s hope of glory moved Him through difficult times to eternity where he looked forward to the day when he would receive the crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8). Therefore, Paul endured.
Hopelessness and true hope
True hope comes from the One who created hope: God. It comes by trusting God even when circumstances are difficult. I’ve heard many theologians and teachers disparage believers who struggle with hopelessness. While their intentions may be good, such belief discounts the fact that we are mere humans. We need hope, too. It’s important to remember that we are not perfect, simply saved. And that is more than enough.
Psalms captured this thought in several of its passages.
For He remembered that they were but flesh, A breath that passes away and does not come again. (Ps. 78:39, NKJV)
For He knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone as though we had never been here. (Ps. 104:14-16, NLT)
Unless we acknowledge the frailty and fragility of our flesh, we may fail to understand the need for God’s power and presence in our lives. We must embrace our dependency on God which will solidify our hope. Can hope be kept alive? Absolutely!
Trust produces obedience, which produces hope, which results in joy and peace; and that is the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13). When we walk by faith and trust in God, we can persevere and endure. We have hope.
 Stress in America 2022, American Psychological Association.