We find “hope” in the Bible 121 times (68 in the Old Testament and 53 in the New). The first time the word is found is in the Book of Ruth. Naomi had two sons (Mahlon and Chilion) and they both died — leaving their wives as widows. Ruth and Orpah wanted to continue living with Naomi, but Naomi declined.
“And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also tonight, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.” (Ruth 1:11-13, KJV).
Orpah decided to go back to her own people, but Ruth clung to Naomi. Ruth knew Naomi’s faith in God, and trusted that her life would be better if she kept that faith also. She vowed an oath to Naomi (an oath that is frequently used in marriage ceremonies).
“And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Ruth made it clear that her “hope” was in Naomi’s God.
Right in the midst of Job’s miseries he pointed out that even a tree had hope.
“For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9).
Even during our lowest points in this life, we need but look around and find a stump that has sprouted again, rejoice is God’s endless mercy, and know we can place our hopes in Him.
Numerous times hope is found and relied upon in David’s Psalms. “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Psa 16:8-9).
Even during his lowest points, David had hope.
“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.” (Psa 22:6-10).
David felt that he had hope in God, even in the womb. Do we have that closeness and trust in God today, that we feel like even in our mother’s womb, we hoped in Him? So many of God’s promises to us came from David’s writings, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” (Psa 31:24).
David’s son, Solomon, wrote about getting heart sick when our hopes are delayed in coming.
“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” (Prov 13:12). And that even in death, we have hope for our future with God, “The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.” (Prov 14:32).
Paul said that we are saved by hope, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Rom 8:24-25).
He also taught that even the Bible was written so that we might have hope, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom 15:4).
He declared the three greatest things to have in this earthly life, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (I Cor 13:13).
He also pointed out that if our hope is only for this lifetime, we are in sad shape.
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (I Cor 15:19).
Paul wanted us to understand that our hope in Christ is forever, and will be fulfilled for all eternity.
John said that our hope purifies us.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (I John 3:2-3).
The Book of Hebrews gives us the perfect definition of faith, which is hope.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1).
There are times in this life when we may feel that our faith is weak, that indeed we are weak because our faith is not as strong as it should be, but even during those lowest points, we hope. That bit of hope matters. God honors it to increase our faith, strengthen our hearts, because our hope is in Him.
We tend to think that faith means we “know,” but we don’t “know” all things. Faith is the expectation that our hopes will come to fruition; therefore, hope + prayer is the very foundation of our faith.