Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Real hope needed in a hurting world


July 1, 2020

One thing preachers are good at is stating the obvious, about five weeks after everyone has already realized it.

Here’s my contribution: If we are not careful, this moment in our history will go down as a period of extreme hopelessness.

“Hope” ought to be a great word, but it’s one we don’t really understand. In our current, cultural landscape, “hope” is often seen as an admission that we’ve been defeated, for all practical purposes. We say, “Well, all we can do now is hope.”

This is a veiled way of ironically meaning, “All hope is lost.” If an American admits that all he has left in his struggle is hope and prayer, that’s his way of saying that the game is over, and the results are not great.

In the Bible, “hope” is a strong word, a rich word, full of content and power. In our culture, though, we routinely say things like, “Hope is a terrible business strategy.” And, it is, in our peculiar use of the word, because we mean hope as hanging around to see if maybe the cosmic dice will come up slightly in our favor. (We don’t really believe it will, but we’re hoping, you see. Who knows? We might get lucky, right?)

The Bible’s concept of hope is different. Hope is the high wall that turns a castle into a fortress. Hope is not the last resort, but the first volley of arrows into the enemy camp. Hope is not the last-gasp of the defeated, but the constant mind-set of the victorious. Biblical hope is never disappointed. It always wins.

This is because hope belongs to a small group of scriptural terms that can be called the “faith family” of words. These would be the various nouns employed by the Bible writers to convey faith, in all of its different aspects.

“Faith” is the knowledge that a thing is true, before you’ve seen all the evidence that will totally confirm it. “Trust” is a simple, child-like willingness to believe that promises made will be promises kept. “Belief” accepts a witness’ testimony as truthful. In the Old Testament especially, “fear of the Lord” is a faith in God that is strong enough to change the way a person lives.

Included in that family of faith-words, we have “hope.” What separates it from the others, even if only slightly, is its orientation toward the future. Hope knows that God wins. Hope isn’t merely longing for better days. It’s trusting God enough to get out and work and move in that direction.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, for instance, the apostle writes that hope (along with faith and love) are like pieces of armor for the believer, a helmet in this case. Later, in 1Timothy 1:1, he writes to the young minister that Jesus Christ himself is our hope.

The world looks hopeless right now precisely because it is Christ-less. We should be the agents of change. We do this by living with actual, biblical hope, to such an extent that the hopeless recognize the difference. When they ask, we’ve got the answer.

Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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