“And in his name the Gentiles will hope”.
Christ quoted that while on Earth to his disciples. God has always wanted a plan for the entire world to come back to him from the instant sin entered the world. But what does hope mean? Specifically, is it the same way we use it today in modern English?
Interestingly enough, other languages use the word “hope” to mean the traditional meaning, which is “to wait or wait enough because of trust”. Italian, for example, uses the verb “Aspettare” to mean “to hope” and “to wait”. When you tell a child “Wait!” in Italian, you would say “Aspetta!!”, but when you are talking about a future event, you said “Aspetto”. In English this translates into “I hope”, but in Italian it means “I wait”.
Until modernity, we also knew hoping meant waiting. Now, however, in our instant gratification culture, we say “ I hope xyz”, but if it doesn’t happen instantly we get extremely aggravated. “Hope” in modern English has turned into wishfully thinking. It includes doubt and wavers. We hope things will happen in our favor, it would be nice if things went my way, I wish etc.
Our God doesn’t operate on wishes, He operates on His timeline, His Promises, and His Glory. He is also a good father that doesn’t expect to give you everything you ask for, but He wants to bless you in His will. The author of Hebrews makes this point quite clear “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering…”(Heb 10:23, ESV) Does this mean we need to hold fast the confession of our wishful thinking? We need to stand firm on our unrealized imaginary future? The author of Hebrews is telling us to stand firm on the thing we are waiting for. We don’t wait for something that might be or could be. When a person waits, they are waiting for something they know will be there.
I will leave you with this. In Romans 15 Paul delivers a fantastic doxology that every Christian should put away in their hearts. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”(Rom 15:13). This God of ours is the God of delivering his promises that we wait for. That is our hope, our wait, and He delivers as He sees fit. Whether this is instantly or later on in His timing.