Read Hebrews 11:1
1 Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. (JBP)
Words can mean different things to different people at different times. The word ‘hope’ is one such word. It can express a vague sort of wish: ‘I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow’. This is far from the biblical use of the word. In the Scriptures, hope is a sure confidence in something even though we can’t yet see evidence of that ‘something’.
And yet it is possible to misuse the word in its biblical sense. For example, our text today doesn’t tell us that everything we may hope for will in fact happen. In its context it is about having sure confidence that God will be true to his promises even when those promises are not yet granted.
In contrast, it is perilous to imagine that all we may hope to happen on earth will actually happen just because we want it to. This is wishful thinking rather than biblical hope. I may long for my child to have great health and a great life of faith. But I can’t guarantee that, and nor does God. On the other hand, I can validly hope that God will go on loving that child and go on sustaining me irrespective of what happens to that child. I go on hoping, but the substance of that hope may change.
The writer Lew Smedes puts it well: “Love hopes all things. The love that lets people be what they are, even when we desperately want them to be different, is that sort of hopeful love. The paradox of love is that it sometimes gives a new hope only as the old hope dies.”