“Hope springs eternal”. We use that phrase to refer to our hope in a particular situation or outcome, even if it’s extremely unlikely to go the way we want. “Hope springs eternal” is a potentially patronizing way of saying, “It’s never gonna happen, but you just go ahead and hold out hope anyway!” This year, the roller coaster of COVID-19 restrictions has meant, in some parts of the world, the cancellation of everything from summer travels to schools resuming in-person classes in the fall. We’ve all clung to optimism at one point or another, only to have it extinguished by the reality of our current circumstances. The end result is often disappointment, disillusionment, and disbelief in the very idea of hope itself.
When I think about hope in that light, it feels like such a fleeting thing – a wisp that vanishes into thin air before I can catch it between my fingers and tuck it securely away in my possession. It’s both temporary and temperamental; it’ll pull up a chair and invite itself to dinner, then disappear out the front door before I even have the chance to serve dessert! Put that way, hope doesn’t seem like an anchor for my soul; it seems unpredictable at best, and unreliable at worst.
But lately, as I was mulling over that phrase – “hope springs eternal” – it dawned on me that I’ve been reading it wrong. Sure, it’s meant to be a figure of speech. But what if I took it literally instead? What if I read it in light of the truth of Scripture? Romans 15:4 tells us, “For whatever things were written before, were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Here are just a few of the verses that come to mind when I think about a biblical definition of hope:
Romans 15:13 encourages us, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Hebrews 10:23 instructs us, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Hebrews 11:1 reminds us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
And 1 Peter 1:3-5 rejoices with us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Our hope is not found in the things of this world, or in the circumstances we face. Jesus Christ is our living Hope. Hope springs eternal for all who believe in His name. And our permanent address in Heaven is a place where Hope reigns forever. My prayer for each of us, in this and every season, is that we’d clothe ourselves in Hope – the kind that really does spring eternal!