Hope is an expectation. To have hope is to look forward to some change that somehow improves our lives. And that expectant desire for improvement is universal. We all hope for something, and without hope, things can get dire.
The Book of Proverbs tells us that "hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12a). It's hope that keeps us moving forward and striving toward something meaningful and significant in our lives.
Since all people have aspirations and expectations, it's easy for Christians to misplace our hope. And we soon discover that our hope was built on the same things that everyone builds their hopes on. When our lives should be like the old hymn:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
But how can we ensure our trust is in Jesus? What can we do to feel confident that our longing isn't misplaced? Here are some tips for managing our hope.
1. Hope in Jesus and not wealth
In cultures with consumption-based economies, it's easy to assume that our lives will improve when we earn a little more money. But the truth is that when that's where our hope is, it's never enough. We always long for more and believe that true happiness is only a deposit away.
This is why Paul warns Timothy:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17–19).
When we put our hope in Jesus, we're able to enjoy what we have and use them as tools to build His kingdom. When our hope is in our material possessions, we cling to them. When our hope is in Jesus, we can afford to be generous with what He has entrusted to us.
2. Trust in God's ability to sustain and protect you
David makes this proclamation in Psalm 20, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God" (Psalm 20:7). His point is that the nations around them put their hope in the might of their armies. The bigger their army, the more invincible they believed themselves to be. But David's hope was in God, who would give them victory.
When you boil it down, this is really about putting one's confidence in your own ability to foresee and protect against future calamities. This could be another reason you put your hope in wealth, but you might do all kinds of things to make sure you’re never vulnerable.
Prudence is essential. We should make smart decisions about how we live, but our confidence shouldn’t be in whether we've identified and prepared for every potential threat. When we put our hope in Jesus, we permit ourselves to live courageously because our lives are in His hands.
3. Long to know Jesus better
The more familiar and accustomed to the Lord we become, the easier it is for us to hope in Him. This is one reason that investing time in prayer and Scripture reading is critical. David says it this way in Psalm 119:
Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight (Psalm 119:73–77).
The more we understand God's Word, the more we discover our own identity and place in the world. We internalize fundamental truths like the fact that we are His children. We are loved. We are forgiven. And we have hope in a future where we will know God as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
The confidence we need to put our hope in Jesus grows from our insight into who He is and how much He cares for us. And that requires investing in that understanding.
If you're interested in beginning this journey, start with the article 20 Bible Verses about Hope, and discover what the Bible tells us about the importance of hope!