Hilltop is going to use this February, this “Black History Month,” to look at the theological and biblical understanding of hope. Black music will help us frame this discussion.
Hope is: “To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.”
In the Hebrew Bible, there are several verbs that may in certain contexts be translated "to hope" in English. Jeremiah uses one to teach that the Lord is the hope of Israel which means that Israel's God is worthy of trust. Another noun from the same root is often also translated "hope" meaning "trust." Similarly, a different Hebrew verb is drawn from a different word meaning "to trust.”
Biblical hope is more than wishful, happy, what is sometimes called “Pollyanna,” thinking.
Biblical hope includes the idea of trust, it includes the idea of expectation.
In the Bible believers are encouraged to wait for God hopefully and expectantly. In times of trouble one should wait for the Lord, who will turn things around. Sometimes expressions of hope are accompanied by the prayer that the supplicant will not be ashamed, that is, disappointed. God promises that those who wait for him will not be disappointed. God is able to bring about the realization of one's hopes.
Hope has a sanctifying effect. We who look expectantly for the return of Christ, knowing that when we see him we shall become like him, purify ourselves "as he is pure" (1 John 3:3 ). Hope also stimulates good works. Following his teaching on resurrection of the dead, Paul exhorts his readers to do the Lord's work abundantly since such "labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:51-58 ).
Hope is at the center of the black musical experience. The words often convey a confidence, expectation, and hopefulness that the current trials and tribulations are not permanent.
I personally find the confidence the black community has in the biblical concept of hope to be encouraging and inspiring. A people who by much of the visible and historical witness had reasons to be hopeless, have been ever hopeful. Hope can be inspiring. Hope can be contagious. I pray that in February, we can draw in the breath of God and catch the virus of hope.
Selah, Pastor Dennis