[ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Parker lives in Saskatoon with his wife Michelle and their two boys where he serves on staff at the Saskatoon Church of Christ. He is the author of “Holy Toast” and continues to enjoy writing every chance he gets.]
Consider this well-known passage from Hebrews 11:1:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)
What an oxymoron! Wait, before you get upset and think I’ve insulted you as the reader or the writer of Hebrews – whomever that may be, let me explain. Merriam-Webster defines an oxymoron as “a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings”. According to my understanding of English vocabulary (which I concede is rather limited at times), “being sure” and “certain” are about as opposite and different from “hope” as you can get.
- I hope I got through that intersection before the traffic light turned fully red and the camera captured my license plate.
- I hope the Riders will win the Grey Cup next year, or at least end the season above 500.
- I hope it won’t get below -10 or snow more than 10 cm this winter.
- I hope that a relative I didn’t even know I had passes away peacefully in his sleep at a very old age having lived a wonderful life and leaving me as the sole heir of his billion dollar estate.
- I hope that at the end of my life I can look back with very few regrets.
- I hope that my kids grow up to love and serve God faithfully.
- I hope you will find this BLOG post encouraging and uplifting.
Hope is not being sure or certain. Hope is crossed fingers and lucky rabbit’s feet. Hope is holding your breath and knocking on wood. Hope is a shooting star and throwing salt over your shoulder. Hope is the roulette wheel of life – you put your money down and pray your number comes up. That’s what the world has always told me hope is: luck, chance, wishing.
But to the writer of Hebrews hope is something different altogether. Hope is confidence. Hope is promise. Hope is assurance. And hope can be all these things, not because we become so great at hoping, but simply because the one we are hoping in is so great. That’s where my list above falls short. It hopes in football teams, the weatherman and my writing ability – all of which are long shots at the best of times. But the writer of Hebrews hopes in the creator of the universe. He hopes in the Messiah who was willing to die to save your life. He hopes in the Spirit that lives within us. He hopes in the Christ who will return and take all His faithful followers to be with Him forever. When God makes a promise it’s no coin toss. There is no drawing straws. No one asks you to pick a number between one and thirty-six.
It is a certainty.
It’s a sure thing.
It is hope.