Hope Against Hope Pt. 1
Has God ever given you a personal promise for your life and you have struggled with believing that He will bring it to pass? You wrestle in your heart to believe what He has said because everything surrounding the circumstance looks completely impossible. If you have then know that God is setting you up for something great! It’s very easy to write this. But it’s not the easiest to believe. If you have a promise from God that you are waiting on the fulfillment of, you can bet on the fact that He wants your name to go down in the hallmark of faith with Father Abraham, Enoch and the rest of the faith fueled crew. He’s counted you worthy of being tested and going through the growing pains of learning to trust Him and allowing your faith to be in Him and Him alone.
I have found Abraham’s story as one to be extremely encouraging during times that I am looking to God to fulfill promises that He has given me. Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in California, probably my favorite YouTube preacher, once said, “You know your mind is renewed when the impossible looks logical.” This completely makes sense. When we begin to see difficulties the way God does it means that we have His thoughts, which means our mind is renewed. Abraham is an example of having a renewed mind because he believed the impossible, and it
allowed Him to experience the righteousness of Christ because of his faith. Romans 4:20-22 says, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness.”
There is one text that has always puzzled me regarding Abraham and his promise and that’s Romans 4:18. It says that in hope Abraham believed against hope for the promise of Him becoming a father figure in the plan of salvation. Is it me or has anyone ever questioned why a person would believe against hope, if they are trying to have faith for something? It seems to make no sense. I researched the term to see what I could come up with and some explanations I found were: 1) Even when there is no logical reason to hope, hope anyway, 2) Beyond hope, but maintaining faith in hope, 3) Past hope, but still hoping and 4) Believing in hope, even when there’s no reason to hope. However, none of these explain why someone would hope against hope, when hope should be a positive thing. Right?
Unsatisfied with what I came up with I searched some more and came across a discussion forum where I found an excellent explanation. I was pleasantly surprised to find a solid explanation on a forum, because most of the time they are just loaded with people giving opinions based on fact as if their opinions are facts. Anyhoo, what I found is that this phrase has a double meaning for the word “hope” in Greek which is “elpis.” Paul uses a play on words to give it a double meaning of one being a “positive hope” and the other as “a neutral expectation.” So taking that into consideration this phrase can be translated to read “Who against expectation believed in what he hoped for”. This explanation made sense to me.
Abraham’s previous expectation was that he and Sarah would never have a son because she was barren. However, when God gave him the promise of a son and told Him that He would be the father of many nations, Abraham faltered in his faith, after initially believing, when He listened to Sarah and had Ishmael with Hagar (Genesis 16).
Even though I had a way better understanding of the phrase I still didn’t see where the word “against” applied. So I looked it up in Greek to see how it fit. The meaning for the word against in the the Greek simply put means “beside, next to or along aside.” What I gathered from reading that definition in conjunction with the explanation I found on the forum is this Hope is whatever you put your expectation in. It doesn’t always mean that what you are hoping for is what you really want. When you are expecting something to happen you are hoping in it even if it is a negative outcome. You may want a positive outcome but you’re putting your faith and energy into believing the negative. So that is your hope because it is your expectation although it is not what you want. Therefore, put your energy into believing what it is you really want and make that your expectation.
Abraham believing against hope simply means that he finally believed the word of God fully against what he previously believed. He put his energy into believing that God would give him a son instead of doubting that he would. The reason why it says it is against hope is because Abraham had to choose to reject accepting the once formed negative belief he had about his situation. He was consistently presented with the temptation of defaulting to disbelieve what God promised and his expectation returning to a negative state. His positive expectation was paralleled by his previous unbelief to cause him to falter, but he stood unwavering in his expectation of what God said he would do instead of what his natural circumstances presented. This was him hoping against hope.
For you my dear friends, when you find the lies of the enemy creeping into your mind, presented as your own thoughts that God will not do what He promised. Reject them and hope against hope standing firm on the promise that God has given you. Dietrich Haddon has a song “He’s Able” that God always brings to my mind to remind me that He will keep very promise that He has given me. All I have to do is continue to trust him. All we have to do is have faith. Click on the song title, listen and rest in His promise as you bop your head :).