This weekend was a rough one. My dad had emergency open heart surgery, and as someone who has a track record of multiple death scares (dad, not me), the stress level was even higher (see: nine lives?). But in the midst of the stress and the fear and the smell of hospitals (what is that smell anyway? Nevermind, don’t answer that), we came down from the terror of the experience to being eternally grateful that now our biggest worries were just when he would be discharged and if he could take a shower.
The plan was for him to go home today, but because of medications and precautions and things like that, it is now looking like tomorrow will be the day for daddy to go home. I received a text from my mom about the technicality of it all, and then updated Matt (read: boyfriend) on the details.
Matt: That sounds like a good plan, hope it all goes really well and he can go home tomorrow!!
Me: Let’s hope!
Let’s hope. I hit send and then LOL’d. Hope? Let’s hope? Seems like a frail sentence in the midst of near-death. Maybe something more profound like “Let’s keep praying for the wisdom of the doctors” or even “Yep” seemed better than “Let’s hope!”. It sounded cheesy. Ungrounded. Not heavy enough. I wanted to make fun of the concept of hope like we were all in middle school again getting picked on for wearing crocheted jeans from WalMart.
Bottom line, “hope” seemed silly.
But it isn’t. Not because of some frilly things that you could put on a Hallmark card, or because it makes us “feel good”. But because of Jesus. When we look at it biblically, hope is profound.
Paul (biblical Paul; Paul the Apostle) spent a LOT of time in jail. He was condemned for his belief of Jesus the Messiah. But he knew that He was, because he had seen him. Paul writes to the church in Corinth “Then [Jesus] appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also” (1 Corinthians 15:7).
When Paul is talking to the council that was determining his fate, he said “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6). Hope. There it is. Do you think that Paul really meant he hoped that Jesus was raised from the dead? Would you put your life on the line for something you hoped for? I hope that the Gators win this weekend, I hope that it doesn’t rain, I hope that I get to see snow on Christmas, but definitely would not take the risk of betting my life on it. But Paul would. Because it’s not hope like we know it.
A lot gets lost in translation, so let’s take a peek at the Greek word for hope: elpis // ἐλπίς
The definition of elpis is expectation. And always in the New Testament is it defined as the expectation of good.
Paul didn’t “hope” that Jesus would be raised from the dead (he saw it happen after all). He expected it. 100% put his life on the line that he was the Messiah.
Hope and expectation are the same thing. They exist as one another. And by golly, I hope that my dad’s medication works and that he gets to go home. I hope that he is fully healed and has no more death scares. I expect those things to happen because I put hope in them.
Know what Jesus said to Paul after the tribunal? “Keep up your courage!”. Done, Jesus. (Can I get an Amen?!)