What is hope? The way the world tends to use the word “hope,” it comes across as if it is just a “wish” or a “desire,” something you want but lack certainty of whether or not it will come to fruition.

For example, a student might say, “I hope that I pass my Calculus class.” What that student is really saying is that he wants to receive a passing grade, but he is not certain that he did well enough to achieve a passing grade. Or, a child, like Micah, might say, “I hope that I get a Minnie Mouse car for Christmas.” What that child is really saying is that she wants to receive a $300 miniature, drivable car as a gift at Christmas, but she is not certain that Santa will fulfill her request.

All such hope-oriented statements demonstrate a fear that the final outcome may not match the desired outcome. As a result, such statements reveal that the world’s definition of hope lacks certainty and security.


How does that compare to the Bible’s use of “hope”? Throughout Scripture hope is referred to as something that is “living” (1 Peter 1:13), something that will not disappoint us (Romans 5:5), something that emboldens us (2 Corinthians 3:12), and something in which we should both “rejoice” (Romans 5:2) and “abound” (Romans 15:13). Based on these passages, the Bible’s use of “hope” sounds much more confident than the world’s use of “hope.”

What makes biblical hope different? Biblical hope is different because it possesses security. In Hebrews 6:19 hope is referred to as a “sure and steadfast anchor.” That is an interesting metaphor. Consider for a moment the purpose of an anchor. An anchor is designed to hold a moveable object in place by attaching itself to an immovable object. It exists for the sole purpose of preventing drift by securing the vessel to which it is attached to an immovable substance. So, for example, you have sand anchors that secure a vessel to the ocean floor by burying themselves in the sand, or you have reef anchors that secure a vessel to a large object, such as a rock, by hooking onto it. Regardless of the means of attachment, anchors are intended to secure a vessel to something that is unlikely to move.

Biblical hope functions like an anchor because it secures us to God who is immutable. Immutable means that God does not and will not change. God made this declaration Himself in Malachi 3:6, when He said, “I am the LORD, I do not change.” One of the psalmists reiterated this attribute of God when he wrote in Psalm 102:25-27 that the earth and heavens,

will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.

Thus, Scripture asserts that God is unchanging when it comes to His essence, character, purpose, and promises. In other words, He will always be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He will not stop possessing the traits of holiness, righteousness, love, and mercy. He will not break a promise that He made to mankind nor will He stop pursuing a relationship with us. God is immutable.

The fact that God does not change is the reason biblical hope is routinely associated with the character of God. Consider Jeremiah’s lament in Lamentations 3. Jeremiah bemoans all of the bad things that have happened to him, going so far as to say “I have forgotten what happiness is” (Lamentations 3:17). But then he stopped complaining as he remembered God’s character. Look at what he said in verses 21-24.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

In other words, Jeremiah possessed hope despite all of his hardships because God is loving, merciful, and faithful. His words reveal a relationship between hope and the character of God.

Paul reiterated Jeremiah’s presentation of hope in his second letter to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-10, Paul mentioned the “affliction” that he and his companions experienced in Asia, which was so great that they wanted to die. I don’t know exactly what their “affliction” was but in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 we are given a list of all the different types of persecution and peril Paul endured. These included multiple “imprisonments,” “countless beatings,” attempted executions, five floggings, three beatings with rods, a stoning, three shipwrecks, as well as a night and a day adrift at sea. In addition to these experiences, he endured frequent travel, danger from the elements as well as people, sleepless nights, starvation, dehydration, and exposure. Needless to say, Paul endured some of the most debilitating circumstances any missionary could imagine, and, by comparison, the “affliction” in Asia was so great that he considered death to be a better alternative. But then God delivered him and used that affliction to teach him and his companions “to…rely not on ourselves but on God” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Now as he faced a new affliction, he confidently asserted that God “will deliver us” once again (2 Corinthians 1:10). How could Paul endure so much suffering yet remain so optimistic? I think it is directly related to where he placed his hope. Paul concluded this section of scripture by saying, “On him,” referring to God, “we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Corinthians 1:10). It seems as though Paul is saying that God’s consistent faithfulness in delivering him from afflictions was his source of hope through every ordeal he faced. Once again, a correlation between hope and the character of God is presented.

So, the question each of us has to ask ourselves is…to what have we secured our hope? Is your hope secured to some variable that can be manipulated by external forces? Finances can be manipulated by changing economic climates. Relationships can be manipulated by changing emotional climates. Ideologies can be manipulated by changing philosophical climates. Fame can be manipulated by changing social climates. Occupations can be manipulated by changing political, technological, or industrial climates. Security can only be found where immutability exists, and our God is the only entity that meets the qualifications of immutability. That is why Jeremiah and Paul found hope in Him despite their difficult ordeals, and that is why you and I can find hope in Him despite the challenges we face.

No matter what storms arise in your life this year you can rest assured that God can calm them as long as your hope is secured to Him. So let us approach 2017 with hope. Not the hope that this world proclaims, but the hope that the Bible refers to as a “sure and steadfast anchor.” May we approach each day with the awareness that God has promised never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5), and, as a result, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).