Where Can You Find Real Hope?
YOUR watch has stopped and appears to be broken. When it comes to getting it fixed, you face a profusion of choices. Advertisements for watch repair abound, all of them making confident claims, some of them contradictory. But what if you find out that a neighbor of yours is the ingenious man who designed that particular watch years ago? What is more, you learn that he is willing to help you, free of charge. Your choice would seem clear, wouldn’t it?
Now compare that watch to your own ability to hope. If you find that you are losing hope—as many are in these troubled times—where will you turn for help? Any number of people claim to be able to fix the problem, but the countless suggestions can be confusing and contradictory. So why not go to the One who designed mankind with the capacity for hope in the first place? The Bible says that “he is not far off from each one of us” and that he is more than willing to help.—Acts 17:27; 1 Peter 5:7.
A Deeper Definition of Hope
The Bible’s concept of hope is broader and more profound than the one in common use among today’s doctors, scientists, and psychologists. The original-language words used in the Bible that are translated “hope” mean to wait eagerly and to expect good. Basically, hope is composed of two elements. It involves the desire for something good as well as the basis for believing that good will come. The hope offered in the Bible is not mere wishful thinking. It has a solid basis in fact and evidence.
To illustrate: When you ask a dear friend for a favor, you may hope that he will help you out. Your hope is not without basis because you have faith in your friend—you know him well, and you have seen him act with kindness and generosity in the past. Your faith and your hope are closely related, even interdependent, but they are distinct. How can you have such hope in God?
The Basis for Hope
God is the source of true hope. In Bible times Jehovah was called “the hope of Israel.” (Jeremiah 14:8) Any reliable hope that his people had came from him; thus, he was their hope. Such hope did not amount to mere wishing. God gave them a solid basis for hope. In dealing with them over the centuries, he built up a record of promises made and promises kept. Their leader Joshua said to Israel: “You well know . . . that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed.”—Joshua 23:14.
Thousands of years later, that record still stands. The Bible is full of God’s remarkable promises as well as the accurate historical record of their fulfillment. His prophetic promises are so reliable that they are sometimes recorded as if they were already fulfilled at the time they were made.
That is why we may speak of the Bible as the book of hope. As you study the record of God’s dealings with humans, your reasons for putting your hope in him will only grow stronger. The apostle Paul wrote: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.”—Romans 15:4.
What Hope Does God Give Us?
When do we feel the greatest need for hope? Is it not when we face death? For many, though, it is at just such a moment—when death takes a loved one, for example—that hope seems the most elusive. After all, what could be more hopeless than death? It relentlessly pursues each one of us. We can avoid it only for so long, and we are powerless to reverse it. Fittingly, the Bible calls death “the last enemy.”—1 Corinthians 15:26.
How, then, can we find hope in the face of death? Well, the Bible verse that calls death the last enemy also says that this foe will be “brought to nothing.” Jehovah God is stronger than death. He has proved it on numerous occasions. How? By resurrecting the dead. The Bible describes nine different occasions when God used his power to bring dead individuals back to life.
In an outstanding instance, Jehovah empowered his Son, Jesus, to resurrect his dear friend named Lazarus, who had been dead for four days. Jesus did this, not in secret, but openly, in front of a crowd of onlookers.—John 11:38-48, 53; 12:9, 10.
You might wonder, ‘Why were people resurrected? Did they not grow old and eventually die again anyway?’ They did. Yet, because of reliable resurrection accounts such as this one, we can have more than a mere desire that our dead loved ones will live again; we have reason to believe that they will. In other words, we have genuine hope.
Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) He is the One whom Jehovah will empower to perform resurrections on a global scale. Jesus said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear [Christ’s] voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) Yes, all those sleeping in the grave have the prospect of being resurrected to life on a paradise earth.
The prophet Isaiah painted this touching picture of the resurrection: “Thy dead live, their bodies will rise again. They that sleep in the earth will awake and shout for joy; for thy dew is a dew of sparkling light, and the earth will bring those long dead to birth again.”—Isaiah 26:19, The New English Bible.
Is that not comforting? The dead are in the safest situation imaginable, like an infant protected within its mother’s womb. Indeed, those resting in the grave are perfectly preserved within the limitless memory of Almighty God. (Luke 20:37, 38) And soon they will be brought back to life, entering a happy, welcoming world much the way a newborn is greeted by a loving, waiting family! So, there is hope even in the face of death.
What Hope Can Do for You
Paul teaches us much about the value of hope. He spoke of hope as a vital part of a spiritual suit of armor—the helmet. (1 Thessalonians 5:8) What did he mean by that? Well, in Bible times a soldier wore a metal helmet into battle, often over a felt or leather cap. Thanks to the helmet, most blows to the head would glance off instead of doing fatal damage. Paul’s point? As a helmet protects the head, so hope protects the mind, the thinking faculties. If you have a solid hope in line with God’s purposes, your peace of mind need not be shattered by panic or despair when you face hardships. Who of us does not need such a helmet?
Paul used another vivid illustration for hope linked to God’s will. He wrote: “This hope we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm.” (Hebrews 6:19) A survivor of more than one shipwreck, Paul well knew the value of an anchor. When beset by a storm, sailors would lower the ship’s anchor. If it caught on the seabed and held tight, the ship would have a chance of riding out the storm in relative safety instead of being blown toward shore to crash on the rocks.
Likewise, if God’s promises are for us a “sure and firm” hope, that hope can help us to weather the turmoil of these stormy times. Jehovah promises that a time will soon come when mankind will no longer be plagued by wars, crime, sorrow, or even death. (See the box on page 10.) Clinging to that hope can help us to steer clear of disaster, giving us the incentive we need to live by God’s standards instead of giving in to the chaotic, immoral spirit so prevalent in the world today.
The hope that Jehovah offers also involves you personally. He wants you to experience life as he meant for you to live it. His desire is that “all sorts of men should be saved.” How? First, each one must “come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) The publishers of this journal urge you to take in that life-giving knowledge regarding the truth of God’s Word. The hope that God will thereby give you is far superior to any hope you can find in this world.
With such hope, you need never feel helpless, for God can give you the strength you need to meet any goals you may have that are in harmony with his will. (2 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 4:13) Is that not the kind of hope you need? So if you are in need of hope, if you have been searching for it, take courage. Hope is at hand. You can find it!
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Reasons for Hope
These Scriptural thoughts can help you build up your hope:
▪ God promises a happy future.
▪ God cannot lie.
▪ God has unlimited power.
▪ God wants you to live forever.
▪ God looks at us with hope.
He chooses to focus, not on our faults and failings, but on our good qualities and efforts. (Psalm 103:12-14; 130:3; Hebrews 6:10) He hopes that we will do what is right and is pleased when we do.—Proverbs 27:11.
▪ God promises to help you meet godly goals.
His servants need never feel helpless. God gives generously of his holy spirit, the strongest force there is, to help us.—Philippians 4:13.
▪ Hope in God is never misplaced.
Completely reliable and trustworthy, he will never let you down.—Psalm 25:3.
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As a helmet protects the head, so hope protects the mind
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Like an anchor, a solidly founded hope can provide stability
Courtesy René Seindal/Su concessione del Museo Archeologico Regionale A. Salinas di Palermo