When we hear the phrase "four letter words," we automatically think someone is referring to curse words—something evil.
But some of the most beautiful words in the English language are also four letters long.
In the midst of his writing on spiritual gifts, Paul told the Corinthians:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Cor. 13:13
(While it would've been super-cool if I could use all three in my example here, faith blew it by having five letters. 😉)
But hope and love are two beautiful examples of wonderful four-letter words.
While the Spirit says that love is the greatest gift, is there anything more precious to us than hope?
When we look around, at times the world can seem so full of evil that it appears to be spinning out of control. It's easy to despair.
For the unbeliever, the greatest thing in life is to contribute to humanity in such a way as to be remembered after they're dead. From their perspective, a person has the hear-and-now and that's it.
But for the Christ-follower, we draw our meaning from this life in light of the next. We live our days here, no matter how dark the world gets, in hope of what is coming.
Our hope, in a word, is Jesus.
1 “Here is my servant [Jesus], whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
(Isa. 42:1-4 NIV)
In this world, our hope can and will bring us suffering at times.
Paul said that he stood on trial because of his hope in the resurrection of the dead (see Acts 23:6).
Paul said to the Governor Felix:
14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
(Acts 24:14-16 NIV)
Similarly, Paul wrote to the Colossians:
24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
(Col. 1:24-27 NIV)
Regarding the hope in which we stand, Paul wrote to the Romans:
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
(Rom. 5:1-5 NIV)
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
(Rom. 8:22-25 NIV)
Finally, as we have hope in life, we also have it in death.
Paul told the Thessalonians:
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
(1 Thess. 4:13-18 NIV)
Hope is indeed a good thing, maybe the best of things.
Praise GOD for the hope He's given us!