“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
When my Mississippi grandkids come to visit I always try to have snack cakes in our pantry. The grandkids love them. Typically I don’t buy the name brand snack cakes in order to save some money. But this past grandkid visit I decided to purchase the name brand snack cakes. My grandson looked into the pantry, saw the boxes of snack cakes, and said, “Pa Pa, you bought the good ones!”
Our Bible verses talk about “good hope,” the good kind of hope. In the Bible the word “hope” means something much different from what most people mean when using the word hope.
Typically we might say, “I hope it rains today” or “I hope we have hamburgers for dinner.” This use of the word hope is nothing more than wishing for something, and often is empty hope (you might get hot dogs for dinner, not hamburgers). This wishful thinking, empty hope has no guarantee and often is based on emotion.
“Good hope,” as mentioned in verse 16, is vastly different. It is confident assurance. Good hope is based on promises God has made to us in the Bible. Since God is faithful to keep His Word, we can believe His promises and know confidently, and with great assurance, that God will do what He has promised.
So what does this talk of “good hope” have to do with your life today? The people who originally received these Bible verses were rattled, shaken and discouraged by the circumstances of their lives.
Maybe you can identify because circumstances, problems and difficulties, in your own life have shaken you, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. “Good hope” is what you need.
What will good hope, Bible hope, do for you?
First it reminds you that God loves you. Verse 16 says that very truth. If you have troubles in your life, God has not forgotten you nor is He withholding His love from you.
Second, good hope encourages you. The picture from the word encourage in verse 17 is that of a friend standing with you, ready to help. When you call on God for help He does just that.
Third, good hope strengthens you for battle. That’s what problems in our lives typically are—struggles we have to contend with. Sometimes that constant battling of problems can get you down. Good hope, says verse 17, strengthens you to fight for another day.
How do you get this good hope? It is a gift God gives you when you put your trust in Him. Note the word grace in verse 16. The word refers to the free gift of God.
When I’m dealing with problems in my own life I like to read Psalm 40:1-2: “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my foot on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along” (from the New Living translation of the Bible).
If you are in the pits today, turn to God for help and you will experience good hope, confident assurance.