The Meaning of Hope

Lately, I have heard myself repeating the cliché words “don’t give up hope!”  I cringe because it sounds so generic and does not convey the meaning that I really intend.  Hope is not merely wishful thinking. It’s not just having a positive attitude. It’s not just a nice word on my coffee mug that gives me a warm fuzzy as I sip my coffee early in the morning.  In the last six months, God has been unveiling the meaning of hope in my life.  

When I say “don’t give up hope”, I really mean “God’s hand is still in this and He is not done. You can’t see right now what He is doing in this painful situation, but God IS doing something, even if we can’t see it on the stage of life.”  If we stop hoping, we might miss out on seeing what God will do.  When I hope, I feel God guiding me to fly above the difficulty instead of getting stuck in the middle of it.  By keeping on hoping, it pulls me up out of the muck and mire and helps me see a bird’s eye view of the situation, even if it is extremely foggy.

On the Desiring God blog for December 8, 2011, Sam Crabtree explains the meaning of hope: “Hope believes that God is not done. Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not the feeling we will have. That is, hope is the (up) feeling we have that the (down) feeling we have is not permanent. “  Hope sees the ultimate reality. Trusting is God is the only way to sustain hope.

Sam Crabtree also draws a link between gratitude and hope.  Gratitude looks backward and fuels the hope that looks forward with reasonable confidence and expectation.  He goes on to say that ungrateful people tend not to be hopeful.  I resolve to become a more grateful and hopeful person!

God was not done when Noah was in the boat, Sarah was barren, Joseph was in prison, Moses was on the run from Pharaoh, the children of Israel were pinned against the Red Sea, the walls of Jericho blocked possession of the promised land, Gideon was hiding from the Midianites, Samson was seduced by a woman and blinded, Ruth was widowed, David was mocked as a boy facing a giant, Job’s children were all killed, government officials persecuted Daniel, Jonah was in the belly of a fish, Paul couldn’t get rid of this thorn, and Jesus was put in the grave. God is not done!

Hope is becoming multi-dimensional for me this season of commemorating the time when God poured out His love to us by becoming man. When He was born as a baby, He was not done. When He died on the cross, He was finished with His sacrificial work but He was not done acting in the world.  When He was resurrected, the sacrifice for sin was complete, but sin still exists.  We wait for Jesus’s return with hopefulness while we still live in the realm of the already/not yet. 

Word Biblical Commentary Volume 18B, Job 38-42 - Book Review

I have often found the Book of Job to be somewhat disturbing and hard to figure out.  Not necessarily the part where God allows Satan to take away everything that Job has – health, wealth, and children in order to show that Job would still be faithful to Him even without all the material blessings. It’s the last few chapters that befuddle me. Job asks questions about justice and why the wicked people get away with their behavior while those who do right are rewarded with suffering.  God answers him, but not with a direct answer to his question. Instead of answering “why”, He illustrates His power as the designer of creation. Job backs down, almost in a way that seems he knows he better just shut up, but he doesn’t apologize for his behavior or attitude in asking. 
When the opportunity to review the Word Biblical Commentary Volume 18B, Job 38-42, I was thrilled to receive this precious resource.  This title is the third volume in the set on the Book of Job, covering the final five and best chapters.  The commentary divides Job 38-42 into 6 parts. Each part contains the following sections: a bibliography, translation, notes on the translation, form/structure, comment, and explanation sections.  But this is only one-third of this volume of the Word Commentary. The remainder contains chapter bibliographies to support all three volumes on the Book of Job. A general bibliography with an outline for topics is the main part of this book with over 250 pages devoted to citing everything ever written about Job from scholarly papers to music and literature. The commentary concludes with a classified index, index of Hebrew words, and an index of authors.
Scholars may find the extensive bibliography to be a thorough and complete resource for everything ever written about Job.  The comments and explanation sections were of particular interest to me and was where I focused my reading of this commentary.  Dr. David Cline performs a magnificent job of portraying the variety of opinions from various scholars on controversial issues throughout the Book of Job, from larger overarching themes down to interpretational issues of a single Hebrew word (which is not transliterated but actually written in Hebrew, something I really appreciate).   
Whether a seminarian, scholar, pastor, Bible teacher, or just a Bible reader trying to gain deeper understanding, there are sections of this commentary for every type of person seeking to understand Job.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest review.