Hope isn’t magical–at least not like we often think it is. Hope isn’t simply a peace about the future that wraps our heart in a down comforter without warning or forethought. Rather, hope is a Christian virtue, something to be pursued and found through Holy Spirit-powered discipline. And the type of discipline might surprise you. Here’s how Peter instructs us:
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that is will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)
Christian hope–confident expectation of God’s promises–begins with our minds. Specifically, it begins by training our minds in the things of Christ, the truths of the gospel. Knowing the indicatives (the absolute truth statements) of the gospel are the absolutely necessary prerequisite for having Biblical hope. Second to knowing those truths is having a mind that is serious–not anti-fun, but self-controlled and practiced in meditating on deep truths. Reading good books, memorizing Scripture, listening well to God’s Word in preaching
Christian hope–which is very different than the worldly “hoping against hope”–continues to be built through obedience. Continuing his teaching on hope, Peter exhorts us to not be “conformed to the passions of your former ignorance” but rather to pursue holy, God-fearing lives. As we train our minds in the truths of the gospel, we will find hope. Likewise, as we conform our lives to the teaching and example of our Savior, we will find hope. Pursuing hope through study alone is much like pursuing health through reading a fitness magazine; at some point, you have to go running. As we obey and realize the Holy Spirit is working in us to bear that obedient fruit, we will find increasing confidence that God will not abandon his work, but will bring it to completion at the last day!
Finally, as was pointed out recently by a wise friend, Christian hope must be a person before it can be an attribute. Or, true hope must be a noun before it can be a verb. Jesus Christ is our hope. It’s in and through Jesus that all God’s promises are “yes and amen” for us. Hope begins when faith apprehends Jesus and it grows as faith continues to cling to him.
Whether you’re beginning with Christ or close to the finish line, I trust you feel deeply the need for hope. May God grant each of us the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to have trained minds and obedient lives!