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  • Writer's pictureJosh Phillips

This Peculiar Thing Called Hope

From the episode "Is Hope Just Wishful Thinking?"

The phrase “hope is fleeting” has increasingly become an all too identifiable sentiment among young people today. After all, the world has quickly become a vastly different place. Previously people were free to walk into restaurants, retail stores, and sporting events with ease but now there could be any combination of required stipulations to even having establishments shut down. The media continue to preach impending doom of our planet and report opinion stories that further drive the wedge between families, co-workers, and fellow citizens. It’s easy to sympathize with those who feel like their future is bleak and uncertain.

The problem with this, however, is that many seem to confuse hope with optimism.

For some, hope can seem like wishful thinking. This accusation seems especially true when it is directed at those with religious affiliations. The problem with this, however, is that many seem to confuse hope with optimism. Optimism desires that something good will happen even if every circumstance says otherwise. A student can take a test that they did not study for nor spend any time absorbing any of the material. They can walk away from that test and if honest, they might say that they truly didn’t know any of the answers on the test but just guessed. If this student says “I think I did well on that test,” then this is mere optimism.

Hope is different. Hope is defined by Miriam Webster as “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” An expectation or belief in fulfillment implies an association with reason. The classic verse of the Christian apologist, 1 Peter 3:15, says “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Hope is predicated on reason. Hope exists when an expectation is built from previous evidence. For example, a child might find himself with a painful injury but he hopes his parents will help him find comfort and some type of relief for the pain. His parents, assuming they were good parents, would likely have a steady track record of providing medical attention to their son and helping in situations like this. The boy would have reason to hope in his parents in this situation.

“Why do humans even possess hope in the first place?”

Even with understanding the true nature of hope, there is still a pressing question: “Why do humans even possess hope in the first place?” It’s easy to shrug this off and say “They just do!” but is that giving this enough thought. Humans are physically crafted with such unbelievable complexity and the same is true of the emotional and mental makeup. Humans “love” in a way that no other being does. Humans show compassion like no other as well. The list could go on with problem solving, reasoning, forgiving, showing mercy, and so on. So why hope? Why do humans hope that situations will turn around or circumstances might change for the better?

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put eternity in our hearts. This would explain why we wonder what is on the other side of the grave and have such a fascination with living forever. It’s built in us. It’s why we make movies where a character dies but their spirit lives on or finds some place of rest. Some are even hoping in science to find some way to preserve the consciousness of a person even if it’s in another form. Something in humans isn’t satisfied with eighty some-odd years and then nothingness. We were created to exist forever in perfect unity with the God of the universe. So what about hope? Is it wired into us as well? What if it is?

From the series "Through The Lens of Hope"

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