Wishing and Hoping (Nov-Dec 2000)

By Matt Dabbs

by Jeff Nelson
November – December, 2000

Greeting cards say the nicest things. Or do they?

We wish you a Merry Christmas!
May the hope of the Savior fill your holidays with joy!

Wishing and hoping. Good words. Words that are used often at holiday times. Words that are intended to be a gift or a blessing to the recipient. May times they are used interchangeably. What is the meaning of these two words?

Wish – to have a desire for something unattainable.

Hope – to cherish a desire with expectation of fulfillment.

Interchangeable words? Nope! Not at all! Notice the difference in the definitions. Wishing leads you to a questionable ending. Hoping leads you to a promise with a guarantee. There is a similarity in that they both contain a desire but that is all they have in common. On which would you stake your life? A questionable ending or a guaranteed promise?

Under the old covenant people had nothing more than a wish. A wish that the Creator would not notice the “special” tree had been disturbed. A wish that their sacrifice would appease God’s judgment. A wish that their obedience to the hundreds of laws would narrow the distance between sin and a just God. But a wish was just that: a desire for something unattainable. What a despondent outlook! “What can I do, God? What can I do that will make you look on me with favor?”

God did look on many of his people with favor but not because of their wishes. It was his choice. It was his goodness. It was his love.

He especially looked on one maidservant with great favor and chose her to give birth to his Son. Births are significant, especially this birth. The birth of Christ put an end to wishing and opened the door to hope. God now allows his people to be assured of their future. A wish list is not necessary. Because of the birth of Christ came the death of Christ. Because of the death of Christ came the resurrection of Christ. And because of the resurrection of Christ we now have a desire with expectation of fulfillment – hope!

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

“This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:9-10).

“Put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

No matter how hopeless life’s situations may seem, hope in Jesus brings not only an expectation of fulfillment but a promise of fulfillment.

A family member stricken with inoperable cancer?

There is still hope.

A tragedy where many lives are foolishly lost?

There is still hope.

A grievous sin that haunts your every waking hour?

There is still hope.

Sometimes what we are hoping for actually better fits the definition of wishing. A wish that there was no such thing as cancer … A wish that death would not take its toll on the innocent … A wish that a haunting sin struggle would vanish from memory.

In and of themselves these situations may not be attainable but they are not beyond the promise of God’s hope. God’s hope sees beyond the immediate and puts trust in the future.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

Therein lies the ability to cope, a dependence on hope.

When selecting greeting cards for your family and friends, pay more attention to the message than the pretty picture. Make sure you use the right word, wishing or hoping. One word sounds nice but has a hollow ending. The other has the bright promise of eternity. Consider this statement for the inside of your cards:

“May the God of hope full you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Then sign your name with a flair of confidence. Drop the card in the mail and let God take over from there. “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it” (Philippians 1:6).

This season celebrate “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).Wineskins Magazine

Jeff Nelson

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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