I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121)
“Hold your head up!” “Put your hands above your head!” “Don’t sit down!” “Keep moving!” These were the demands of my coach in the middle of an intense workout and at the end of a race. When athletes give their all in practice or competition, they feel the sting of their efforts. Their body is in pain; their legs are heavy. They are both too tired to stand and too tired to sit down. Their number one priority at the moment is to catch their breath and bring their heart rate back to normal…rest. Some athletes might collapse across the finish line and relish in the moment of not having to run another step. Regardless of how tight their legs, or impossible it is to breathe, walk or stand up straight, Coach will holler, “Hold your head up! Keep moving.” Stopping, sitting, laying down is not an option, no matter how difficult the workout.
Holding one’s head high while the body is exhausted is essential. It keeps the oxygen flowing and makes it easier to breathe. Having one’s hands above the head elevates and expands the chest again, allowing more oxygen to flow freely. Walking versus lying down keeps the blood circulating and muscles from locking up. Both outcomes are significant for recovery. Once again, what’s best for the athlete in the moment of weakness and distress is the least natural and comfortable option. Until the body again reaches its resting heart rate, the athlete must hold her head up and keep moving.
What is hope? What is faith? We have a stanch responsibility to hold up our heads and keep moving in life Beyond Athletics. We depend on it, and so do those around us. Hope is the fuel that enables us to hold up our head and keep moving. Faith is the act of holding up our head and continuing to move in obedience even when we don’t feel like it or things look bleak.
We hope for many things: we hope we’ll succeed, that our kids will turn out okay, that desire will be realized. We hope to perform at our best when it counts. The word hope in the context typically used has a passive tone with a sliver of uncertainty. We can only hope things will come together because we don’t truly know.
The Bible provides us with a much stronger brand of hope. Hope in the Bible is more than a want or feeling, and it’s not wishful thinking. It’s often interchangeable and used together with the word confidence (especially in the New Living Translation). That means they are used the same way and mean the same thing. They also add emphasis when used together (e.g. “confident hope”). This hope is what gives us the ability to hold up our head and keep moving.
The hope of the Bible is strong and trustworthy. It’s an anchor for our souls, leads us into God’s inner sanctuary (He 6:18-19), saves us (Ro 8:23-24), and is a helmet for our mind (1Th 5:8). It produces faith in Christ Jesus and love for all of God’s people, and it will last forever (1 Cor 13:13). Hope is the constantly flowing, always available fuel for our faith.
This hope is not random, doesn’t exist by chance and cannot be fabricated. The reason that we can have confidence in this hope is because of its origins. The hope of the Bible is 100% certain because it is backed by the undeniable. It is given to us by God.
Biblical hope is a person, place, thing, or event that we wait for and look forward to with confidence (no matter how long it takes) because we know for a fact that it’s coming. (Think, for example, about the estimated delivery date of your Amazon order, especially when it’s green. Amazon’s reputation and that ETA give you hope of your package arriving, and you wait on it in expectation until it arrives that day. Because of Amazon’s reputation, you are certain it will arrive eventually even if it goes beyond the estimated arrival date) How can we know for sure that something is coming when we don’t have an estimated delivery date? When it’s backed by:
- God’s promise and oath (Heb 6:18)
- God’s character in that He cannot lie (Ti 1:2) and makes everything work out according to His plan. (Eph 1:11), and
- Jesus Christ
Confident hope, then, means to trust God, and God rewards our trust in Him with joy and peace from the Holy Spirit (Ro 15:13). Confident hope cannot be fabricated. It comes from God; He is the reason and source of hope. God gives hope to us by His grace (2 Th 2:16, Tit 3:7), through Jesus (1 Pe 1:21), according to His promise (Tit 1:2). As the source for our hope, God proves us with a slew of hope – that is more things that we can patiently wait for and look forward to with confidence:
Jesus Christ is our hope. The Gospel – a new kingdom to live in, to be reconciled to God (through the death of Christ) is hope. Being brought into His presence able to stand before Him holy and blameless without a single fault (Col 1:22-23) is hope. So is being made perfect (He 7:19), our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies (Ro 8:23) and sharing in Christ’s glory (Col 1:27). Hope is knowing we are seated with Christ in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6), salvation (1 Th5:8), right standing and relationship with God (Gal 5:5), being one with and in Him (Eph 1:18 and 4:4-6), all that is reserved for us in heaven (Col 1:5), eternal life (Tit 1:2, 3:7, 1Pe 1:3), the day Jesus is revealed (Tit 2:13), and that we will be like Christ when He appears (1 John 3:3) are all hope.
This is the hope that we have been called and invited to engage (Eph 1:18, 4:4). We can also give this hope to others (1 Th 2:19). When we truly have hope, it affects our behavior. We keep ourselves pure because of it. (1 John 3:3). Others can see our hope which is why we always need to be ready to explain our reason for it (1 Pe 3:15). But we must also be careful not to allow long durations of waiting, cares, concerns, distractions and doubt to cause us to lose hope (Heb 6:11). But we can patiently wait on this hope no matter how long it takes, because this hope is substantiated by 100% certainty. It’s a promise that will absolutely be realized. Take hold of this hope (Heb 6:18-19) and hold onto it tightly without wavering (Heb 3:6, He 10:23).
“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Ro 5:2-5 NLT). Head up! keep moving!
What hope has God given to you for your life through a personal message or the Bible? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave your reply below.