This post was written by Christie Penner Worden, a member of the INCM Blog team.
“Hope has a name.”
I’ve seen this phrase a lot lately. Not nearly as often as I have seen evidence of hopelessness in this season, I’m afraid. In our clamoring for a different reality, a new normal, or a next chapter, hope seems dim, faint, even fading.
Hope has a name, and as followers of Jesus, we know it to be His. In a recent deep dive into the book of Hebrews, I found that Hope is not only rightly named; it is so clearly defined that to miss it would be, well, hopeless.
“Because God wanted to show his unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because he has become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:17-20 CSB
Without getting into the deeper theology of this passage, I wonder how often we have allowed the world’s definition of hope to inform our understanding of Jesus, rather than the other way around? Meaning, if we decided to agree with Scripture about what—rather, Who—Hope is, we might trust the anchor to keep us firm and secure.
The author implores his readers to seize hope. What have you seized lately? I mean really: what have you grabbed onto with all of your might, as if your very life depended on it? The truth is, your very life does depend on Hope.
I feel like we’ve been given much to grab onto, but little that will anchor us over the last number of months. And as we mine for Truth in the midst of the rubble, what are you hoping to find? What have you lost that you need to name? What is the heart behind the yearning for Hope?
As we sit in Advent, I wonder where Mary pinned her Hope. We always have the benefit of the story’s ending with Scripture. But for the protagonists, they were living it out in real-time, for our benefit all these years later. What did Mary seize? When she found herself pregnant? When Joseph had a decision to make? When the innkeeper sent her to the stable? Was the thing that anchored her in each of those moments the One she then held in her arms? Did she know?
What if saying “I hope for…” is not the same as saying “I wish for…”? Annie F. Downs had a conversation with Lauren Daigle on her podcast, That Sounds Fun, where Daigle defined hope as an establishment. She talked about standing on the top of one mountain and looking across the landscape to another mountaintop and saying, “Let’s go to that one instead.” It looks so close, like, right there, and yet the multi-day journey to get there needs careful consideration.
Hope only feels like a wish when it seems like an impossible climb–too far, too hard, too much. But it doesn’t change the fact that the mountain is established. It is immovable. It is real, and it is right in front of you. Whether or not you can seize it is a matter of perspective.
That passage in Hebrews is artful. The author winds us gently into what’s true about the person of Jesus, and about the tangibility of Hope. Allow me to be so bold to reword it for you: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hope enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Hope has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner because Hope has become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (my wording italicized)
The Hope we are seizing isn’t a moment, a next step, a new season, a place we cannot get to from here. It isn’t a Hail Mary or a whimsical lapse of reason or logic. Hope is a person, a friend who is closer than a brother, your Savior, the Light of the World.
As you walk closely with him, daily inching toward the Advent of our Christ; as you follow so closely in His footsteps that you find your feet dirty from His dust; could you grab onto the hem of His garment and seize Hope? He’s right there. Like a persistent toddler, could you wrap your arms around Hope and let Him anchor you?
Hope has a name. His name is Jesus.
Christie is impassioned by the imagination and faith that is hardwired into kids. Her own childlike faith enables her to believe in God’s promises, see in technicolor and celebrate God’s creativity. She’s excited to ignite sparks in adults and blaze trails for kids to step onto with kingdom purpose. Christie spends the rest of her time with her charming husband and three (mostly) delightful kids.