One of his good and perfect gifts is hope. The hope God gives is not like natural man’s common hope. The basis for worldly or secular hope is unlike hope that comes as a gift from God above. Man’s natural hope is futile, because its basis is man, which means hope may or may not be fulfilled. But God’s gift of hope is good and perfect, because its basis of fulfillment is himself, the eternal, Almighty God. The hope God gives is described as an eternal hope (2 Thessalonians 2:16) and a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). It is hope without end, and it is alive within God’s people.
God’s gift of hope is both an action and an object. There is the act of hoping and the object hoped for. As an action, hope acts. It does not sit around and do nothing. It does not wring its hands and cry out in pity, “Why me?” Divine hope is active — it expects! It actively does something about its situation. The Apostle Paul used the illustration of a farmer, noting that the farmer plows in hope (1 Corinthians 9:10). The farmer doesn’t just plow to be plowing, but plows expecting a harvest. The hope God gives to his children is alive and it is active, expecting fulfillment.
The object of our hope is not the thing or things we desire, but God. We look to God! We have hope in his Word and in his promises. The ancient people of God recognized he was their hope (Psalms 71:5; Jeremiah 14:8; 17:13), as did the first Christians (Romans 15:13). Their hope was also in God’s Word, which contains his promises (Psalms 119:81, 114).
One of the Hebrew definitions of divine hope is translated into English as “to stretch out toward” like a plumb line is stretched out between two points. The good and perfect gift of hope God gives connects the believer to God and his Word. The believer can depend on God and his Word, because God is true and faithful; he never changes like shifting shadows; and he has magnified his Word above his name (Psalms 138:2 KJV). God keeps his promises!
God promised to give 75-year-old Abraham a son, although he was childless and his wife barren. God promised to bless all nations through him (Genesis 12:2-3). God delayed the promise for 25 years, resulting in Abraham and Sarah’s inability to reproduce. But the gift of God’s hope was alive in Abraham, “who against hope believed in hope” (Romans 4:18 KJV) and at the age of 100 received the promised heir.
The ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham was fulfilled in the supernatural birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. We will, once again, this Christmas celebrate his birth. The one who is truly the hope of all mankind. Why not receive the good and perfect gift of divine hope?
The Rev. Ken Moren is pastor of Family Christian Center. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.