Hope, the Bible tells us (see 1 Corinthians 13:13), is one of the three cardinal gifts of the Spirit. A gift of God that remains always. The other two being faith and love.
We are told that hope is "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19). There are many similar passages in the Bible that speak in the highest terms about hope, so it is extremely sad when the hope referred to seems lacking or even absent from a person's life.
So what is this hope that some lack but need? The first thing to realise, if Christian hope is to be evident in a person's life, is that he or she is to be able to differentiate between the way the word is commonly used in ordinary conversation and what the Bible speaks of. We are apt to say things like "I'm hoping for fine weather", "hoping for a pay increase soon", "hoping to be fitter and healthier", things that we are not given any guarantee of in scrtipture.
When the Bible speaks to us about hope it talks to us about God, our hope in Him and the certainty we may have in Him and his eternal purposes for us and all which will never be thwarted. It is about taking God at his word, even at times when appearances are to the contrary.
Writing about people who so believe and take it this way, Carlo Carretto explains that when we take this approach (from Summoned by Love (1977)):
"We overcome the obstacles in which we are ensnared"
"die already seeing our bodies in resurrection light"
"believe in things which are impossible to mankind without God"
Hope is born when we experience the abyss of our helplessness, as Israel did in Babylon, as Jeremiah when he was lowered into the prison cistern, as Jesus on the cross, seeing in Jesus "all the worlds suffering concentrated", "the redemptive fire of mankind in evolution", "the key to love's great secret".
Let us then never forget who to hope in, for as Priscilla Jane Owens reminds us in the hymn Will your anchor hold:
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love
Priscilla Jane Owens (Singing the Faith 645)
The reflections here are written by members of our congregation.