What does that mean?
We’ve all said these three little words before, but have you ever paused to unpack them? What is actually being communicated by the phrase, “I hope so”?
I think that most times when people say this, what they really mean is “It’s unlikely, but wouldn’t that be something?!” For example…
“Hey Bob – are the Mariners going to win the World Series this year?”
Bob Says: “I hope so…”
Bob Means: “I don’t think so. That would be nice though…”
This isn’t a joyful, hope-full statement of confidence in the proposed outcome, is it? It’s a concession. It’s a surrender! It’s resigning to the fact that it’s improbable, and I wouldn’t bet money on it. The paradox is that this phrase isn’t full of much hope after all. Rather, it usually indicates the opposite.
Unfortunately this is what most people mean when they say, “I hope so.” But is there anything more substantial, more hopeful, than this hopeless hope?
As a Christian, I say I have hope. I have hope, even in the midst of the death, suffering, and grief all around me. However, by this I do not mean the shallow wishful thinking in statements like “I hope so.” I mean that I truly believe that when I die I will spend eternity with Jesus. I am convinced that my loved ones who have passed away are currently doing what they spent their lives on this earth doing: getting to know Jesus. I am longing for the day that Jesus comes back “with all his saints,” because I know that I will see them again and that “forever we will be with the Lord.”
Death isn’t the end. I have hope.
Gerry Breshears recently preached 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 at LifePoint Church and he gave this definition of hope:
“Hope is the active, confident, expectation of good based on the character of God.”
Our hope is active. I believe that Jesus has conquered death and therefore I have acted on it. I respond to God in hope, in active reliance.
Our hope is confident. I don’t doubt that there is life after death. Our hope is not a wavering “let’s wait and find out – I hope so…” Rather it’s a “let’s prepare for the inevitable!”
Our hope is based on God’s character. I don’t have active confidence because the result is based on my ability to believe well enough. It’s based on the fact that God is faithful. He’s the God who has acted in human history through the person of Jesus. He’s the one who raised from the dead. He’s the one who has yet to default on one of his promises.
This is a bet-my-life-on-it type of confidence. As a matter of fact, I have.