Hope – the positive expectation that something will turn out well. As we enter a season celebrating the hope of Christ, I have been ruminating on a concept that one of my husband’s mentors drilled into his heart growing up. He frequently said that there is a critical difference between hoping for something and hoping in someone. The first time my husband shared this with me, I paused and had to replay the phrase in my head in an attempt to understand what he meant.
The object of our hope often dictates our attitude, actions, and expectations. And hardship often defines our hope… when battling chronic illness, you hope to be well. If you face financial hardship, you hope for stability and security. When you are in a season of loss or uncertainty, you hope for answers and clarity. But hardship can also gently force us to put our hope beyond our circumstances in Christ.
This is where it is important to define the difference between hoping for something and hoping in someone. As Christians, Christ is the anchor of our hope and is truly the only appropriate place for us to put our ultimate hope. If we have our hope firmly rooted in Him, then we can hope for other things without allowing those things to define our attitude, actions, and expectations. Hoping in Christ supersedes anything else that we may hope for. When we put our hope in Christ, He is the one who defines our attitudes, actions, and expectations.
I have had the privilege of meeting people in developing countries who live in utter poverty… yet they radiate joy and hope. Yes, hope that they will have food to eat that day, but more than that—hope for eternity. I have had the gift of meeting people with severe disabilities whose daily life is filled with pain and difficulty… yet they have hope! Hope that they will respond well to their current treatment or therapy, but more than that—hope that their bodies will be made new in Christ at the end of time.
When our hope is anchored in Christ, it is not vain wishing—it is an assured expectation. Nothing else can offer us this kind of assurance. Placing our hope in anything that this world offers will only end in our ultimate disappointment. But placing our hope in Christ allows us to walk in confidence, knowing that even if what we hope for doesn’t come true, our ultimate hope remains firm. I pray that as we celebrate the Christmas season, our hope is firmly anchored in Jesus Christ and our eternal inheritance with Him!
Ali Howard is a Baylor University graduate who has engaged in full-time, nonprofit work since 2011. She joined the Joni and Friends team in January 2015, and serves as the Senior Coordinator of Volunteer Services. She also acts as the content editor for the Irresistible Church blog and books.