The Apostle Paul wrote, “according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20, NKJV). We learn three lessons from this passage.
First, we are to be constant in hope. Hope is to be “living” (1 Peter 1:3), “blessed” (Titus 2:13) and “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19). Hope gets us through each new day. It steers us through the minefields of trouble all around us. Hope is the expectation of future good. It tells us that there are brighter days ahead of us. We just have to keep moving forward.
Those without hope see no tomorrows. Elie Wiesel, in “Night,” writes of those who survived the holocaust as doing so because they had hope they would survive. The patient who is hopeful of a full recovery is able to endure the pain. Tibellius said that “hope ever urges on, and tells us tomorrow will be better.”/1
Christians have a hope that men do not possess outside of Christ. “Other men see only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope.”/2 “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.”/3
Paul writes that we should have “an earnest expectation of hope” (Philippians 1:20). The phrase, “earnest expectation” means a “keen anticipation of the future, the craning of the neck to catch a glimpse of what lies ahead.”/4 This is a powerful image.
A child knows his parents are taking him to Disney to see Mickey Mouse in the morning. His excitement prevents sleep. Every minute becomes an hour as he waits and waits for the time to arrive. At long last, the car heads out. Mile after mile, he keeps looking out the window and asking whether they are almost there. Finally, he is told that they are a mile away. He cranes his neck as far as he can to see ahead of the car. He knows that if he can glimpse one corner of the building, his dreams will be realized.
Imagine having such unbridled anticipation of heaven! Imagine craning our neck to see what was coming because we cannot imagine what God will do next. If we had been a witness to creation we would have experienced such an exhilaration that we would be speechless to see what would come next.
Augustine said, “Oh God, thou hast made us for Thyself and our souls are restless until they find rest in thee!”/5 Are we restless to be in heaven? Paul had a strong “desire to depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23). Paul was not going to be satisfied until he walked the paths of heaven. He knew there was a “crown of righteousness” laid up for him and he was ready to rest from his labors (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
A strong faith in Christ says that we have absolute faith in his ability to carry out his plan and fulfill his promises. Paul wrote that we will be redeemed in our bodies and he says “we [are] saved in this hope” (Romans 8:23,24). And hope in Christ, we are assured, will never disappoint us (Romans 5:5).
1/ Eleanor Doan, Speaker’s Sourcebook II (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 208.
2/ Ibid. Quote by Gilbert M. Beenken.
3/ Ibid. Quote from O.S. Marden.
4/ Ralph Martin, Philippians, in Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, edited by Leon Morris, Volume 11 (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1987), 78.
5/ John Phillips, Exploring Ephesians and Philippians (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1993), 60.
Hope is the Fuel of Our Lives