December 16 I Thursday
“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.” —Psalm 130:5
What does our culture mean when it says, “hope” and what does the Bible mean when it talks about “hope”? The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “hope” as, “to cherish a desire with anticipation; to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment; to expect with confidence or trust.” In other words, hope is looking forward to something taking place. But hope in our world can sometimes seem elusive.
Working with inner city youths for about 17 years, I remember fathers promising their children that they were going to be there for their birthday or Christmas. These youths would be filled with hope, certain that their father was going to show up as he promised. But oftentimes, these hopes were met with disappointment when their fathers did not show up. Like these youths, we may bring this experiential perspective into our understanding of hope when we read the Bible. We are confident and trusting, but it does not seem to come to pass.
In the Old Testament, there were two main words for “hope”—yachal and qavah. The former means “to wait for” or “simply waiting,” while the latter has a tense expectation while waiting for something to happen. It is important for us to understand that the whole idea of hope and waiting are interconnected. Waiting is hope. We do not hope for what we already have; instead, we wait for it expectantly. When we read the word “wait” or “hope” in the Old Testament, it is usually yachal or qavah.
Psalm 130:5 gives us a better understanding of the idea of waiting and hoping and how they are connected, “I yachal for the LORD, my whole being yachal, and in His word I put my qavah.” The psalmist waits with a tense expectation that God will move. Biblical hope places its hope, its trust and its confident expectation in God’s faithfulness. For example, when God flooded the earth, Noah had to yachal for the water to recede, waiting approximately 370 days. When we study that passage in context, we see that Noah’s waiting—his hope—was rooted in a promise from God that the waters would recede. This is the pattern that we observe in the Old Testament. Biblical hope is secure because it depends upon God. It is not focused on circumstances or events taking place around us but on who God is.
Our hope is only as good as the object in which we place our confidence and trust. Biblical hope is rooted in God’s faithfulness. The Old Testament prophets were unshakeable because their hope was placed in the right object. What is our hope placed in?
Prayer: God of this world, in You alone do I wait expectantly, and in You alone do I place my hope. Thank you for proving time and again that You are faithful to do as You promised. Praise You!