Hope is an important word, with an important meaning behind it. When I was in counselor training, one of the worst problems you would ever find was a lack of hope. When people have lost hope, then it impacts their capability to deal with all their problems, no matter the severity. Hope allows us to come back from terrible tragedies. It allows sport’s teams to pull off incredible upsets. Hope can provide a path out of some very dark places.
By contrast, when someone loses their hope, it can lead to depression, despair and the unwillingness to even try for a better outcome. If you or one of your friends have ever been in that place, you might be able to understand what I’m talking about. It is very difficult to get out of that place, and some might say it takes a miracle. What it really takes is something better to put our hope in.
People place their hope in lots of people and things. It is very common to believe that “more” of something that you have will make your life better. This is most frequently money, but it could be more freedom, more possessions, more power, a better position, better friends or a better place to live in a better community. In this scenario, the problem is only one of access. Other people have better access to what I need and that is why I’m not happy. It is a belief that the answers to our problems are concrete and real, but slightly out of reach.
This kind of hope is tantalizing. It is also the main kind of hope the world is selling to us. Politicians love to sell this kind of hope, because they can always promise to do better and to give you more of what you want the next time. Employers use this as motivation to drive us on to work harder, longer and with more commitment. Advertisements are centered around the hope of a better life through the products and services that they sell you. Whatever your problem or desire, someone is out there trying to sell you something that will give you what you want, need or require. What they are selling is hope, and it is a very cheap, usually false hope that cannot give us what we ultimately need.
In the 12 step program made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous, many of the steps focus on this need for a sense of hope. Few things can destroy a life so thoroughly as substance abuse and the creators of the program recognize that human effort is not enough to give people hope when they are in the spiral of despair caused by addiction. All of those offers of hope from the world are powerless to save someone who has lost hope, for that we need something better. Step 2 calls on the addict to believe that there is something greater than themselves that can give them the power to “restore themselves to sanity”.
The actions that follow involve familiar faith themes of committing our lives to God’s care, confession, repentance, prayer, and the community of accountability with other strugglers. The Bible talks about this as a better hope. This is a hope that is not based on religious ritual or human effort, but on the power of God.
God annuls the old covenant. Man has proven that “the law perfected nothing.” All the religious efforts or systems of following religious rules did not give true hope. In their own way, they are similar to other false hopes, such as money or power. In this new hope, there is no dependence on man, but only a drawing near to God, so that we might more fully rely on Him in everything. This is the better hope that is offered to all of us, a hope in Jesus Christ. This is clarified later in this passage:
When we search the promises of God, we find many good things promised to us in His Word, but this is the promise of that better hope, the one that will see us through the challenges and trials that life brings. This is our only place to put our hope in which Jesus is the one who guarantees it. In the advertising world, people will often promise a “lifetime guarantee”, but this is Jesus’ forever guarantee. “He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.” That is something to be truly hopeful for. It is a hope, not just for tomorrow, but for eternity.