Our small group meeting had a lesson on hope recently. It proved to be a subject we all can relate to. A bit of trivia: 26 places in America are named Hope. Fifty places in the world have that name.
The meeting “icebreaker” question was, “What do you hope happens in the next three months?”
As I think back on it now, I hope for a joyful holiday season. A quiet and peaceful Thanksgiving, not a near tragedy like last year when our son spent the night in the woods in temperatures below freezing. A white Christmas with family and friends we cherish. A New Year filled with more opportunities to serve God in his will. A more immediate hope is for enough snow to enjoy but not too much that I get tired of shoveling snow.
The Bible uses the word hope 133 times. Many examples of hope are shown in the Scriptures.
Abraham responded to God’s call with faith and hope. He held to the promise of descendants beginning with a son by his wife Sarah to ultimately becoming a great nation. Romans chapter four uses the phrase, “Who against hope believed in hope” to describe Abraham’s faith. Sure enough, an heir was born named Isaac because Abraham “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.”
Paul wrote to the saints at Rome, encouraging grace and peace for them. Jews had been expelled from Rome by Emperor Claudius (see Acts 18:2). Those who remained needed hope.
The letter to Romans contains much about hope. Chapter five has these words: “Rejoice in hope” and the assurance, “Hope maketh not ashamed.” These statements encourage believers to continue in hope. Chapter eight states “we are saved by hope” and “we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Finally, it is encouraging to read this promise, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).
In his first letter, Peter mentioned hope several times in chapter one based on the resurrection and revelation of Jesus Christ. The abundant mercy of God brought about a “lively hope” through the resurrection. He later added direction to be ready to give an answer for the reason of hope that believers have (see 1 Peter 3:15). This is significant because Peter spent three miserable days after denying Christ. The report of the resurrection caused him to run to the tomb and find it empty. Jesus called him by name, which must have raised his hopes tremendously. He was restored and was filled with the Spirit in Acts 2. He preached that day, fearlessly quoting Scripture and giving hope to seekers with instructions to obey. Hope kept him steady through the battles and victories of his powerful ministry that included miracles, revival, raising the dead, healing, and deliverance from prison.
Hebrews 6:19 says hope is “a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” It is this anchor we can lay hold of in seeking refuge from the storms.
Mitch Glover is pastor of Sterling Pentecostal Church. Sunday services include Bible classes for all ages at 10 a.m. and worship service at 11 a.m. Bible study is Thursday at 7 p.m. Visit the services and sterlingpentecostalchurch.com.