For former atheist Lee Strobel, author of the book , hope is grounded in biblical principles. He cautions us against the three most common misinterpretations of “hope.”

Wishful thinking

“Our hoping can’t really turn things one way or another.”

Sometimes we try to change reality with our thoughts. We attempt to hope things in and out of existence. We blow out the candles of our birthday cake hoping to stay healthy for another year or we pick up the Wall Street Journal and hope our stocks have gone up.

“It’s almost a superstitious feeling that somehow if we are sincere in our desires that things are going to go in the direction we want them to go.”

Instead of hoping for the desired outcome, we should seek to understand what God’s desired outcome is and ask Him to show us how we can achieve it through His power.

“We have to anchor our hope in something that’s more eternal, secure, unchanging, powerful, and true; that’s Jesus Christ.”

Hopeful Dreams

These are unrealistic goals we choose for our lives. We often hear the phrase, “You can be whoever you want to be,” and it’s just not true. Instead of setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves and focusing on what we want, we should seek God and ask Him to reveal to us what He wants us to be.

“I can have hopeful dreams I want to play in the NBA but until my vertical is measured in more than millimeters, I’m not going to.”

Not all aspirations are inappropriate but we all have intellectual and physical limitations that God can use to steer us onto the path of His will for our lives.

Blind optimism

It’s good to be optimistic and think positively no matter how dire the circumstances of life might be. However, sometimes we fall into the trap of pretending we don’t have problems and thinking if we continue on our path everything will just work itself out. This isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s important to recognize a problem in our life because it’s the first step in the process of fixing the problem.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” – John 16:33

Jesus Himself says that we will encounter trouble in this sin-scarred world we live in. It doesn’t help to try to pretend we don’t have trouble. Instead, we should recognize our tribulation and thank God for overcoming all of it and giving us such an amazing hope for the future.

Key Scriptures: 1 Peter 1:3; Romans 8:28; Psalm 29

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