The Bible uses five pictures to help us understand hope. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then five pictures are worth a whole sermon full of words.
Hope is light—to help us see through the darkness of sin.1 God said, “I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed” (Psalm 132:17). As the lamp of the tabernacle never went out (Exodus 27:20–21), so gospel hope shines as a beacon drawing us to salvation. Hope does not deny the reality of dark and painful circumstances. However, it does shine a bright light into these valleys.
Hope is a peg—to hold things together when the world is falling apart. “Grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place” (Ezra 9:8). We all have those days when one bad thing after another happens (cf. Job 1:13–19). Sometimes that “day” stretches into weeks in a hospital bed or waiting room, and months in therapy or grief (cf. Job 7:3). How does one keep going? He hopes that tomorrow will be better.
Hope is a door—a way out of despair (Hosea 2:15). The meaning of hope in Scripture is almost the opposite of ordinary usage now. When we “hope” for something, we express uncertainty. Biblical hope not only desires a thing, it also expects it.
Scriptural hope does not mean “cross your fingers.” It is not a lip-biting gaze as you watch the kicker go for a field goal in the last seconds when down by two points. The confidence of hope is not mathematical or logical; it a moral certainty.
Hope is a helmet—to shield us from the harsh blows of life: “As a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8). A helmet protects a soldier’s head in battle (1 Samuel 17:5, 38), a player’s head in a game, or a worker’s head in construction. The gospel blocks Satan’s vicious blows (Ephesians 6:10–17).
Hope is an anchor—to hold us in place in storms. There are sixty-six drawings of anchors in the catacombs, the tunnels where Christians hid during Roman persecutions. Hope was their anchor (Hebrews 6:19; 10:34). Christians have strong consolation (Hebrews 6:13, 17).
Hope is ultimately only found in Jesus. We get into Him and His church by baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27) and remain there by faithfully walking in the light (1 John 1:6-9). Our congregation is being careful during this time, and not doing the things we normally do, but we will leave the safety of our home to teach and baptize you. That is how important your soul is to God (Matthew 16:26).
Want hope in the midst of this chaos? There’s only one way: become a Christian. —Allen Webster
1 Wade Webster is the first person I heard make these points, and I assume they are original with him.