… to tackle the war in Afghanistan.
… to stimulate the economy.
… to lose weight.
… to cure a nasty cold or some other illness.
… to get my story published.
… to (you fill in the blank.)
This hope is seeded in doubt and “wishful thinking.” It doesn’t scratch the itch nor feed the hunger pains of longing that gnaw at our situation. This hope is fragile. It can shatter as easily as Waterford crystal goblets dropped on slate-tiled floors. This hope is hardly a good strategy.
Yet, Joseph of Arimathea points to a different kind of hope.
After Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea, a highly respected member of the Jewish Council, came. He was one who lived expectantly, on the lookout for the kingdom of God. Working up his courage, he went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Mark 15:42-44, The Message)
Joseph lived expectantly, with expectant hope. The “assurance-it-will-happen” kind of hope. The hope that stood on faith in God and sang with the psalmist, And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. (Psalm 39:7, NLT) With expectant hope — not wishful hope — Joseph watched for the prophesied Messiah and kingdom of God.
What made expectant hope so different than the “wishful thinking” kind? Joseph’s hope empowered him to wait patiently upon God’s answer. Joseph’s hope trusted in God’s love and plan to work all things to the good, even when the road ahead looked bleak.
And while Joseph waited, expectant hope enabled him to step forward with courage. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus, thus going public about his secret discipleship. Despite confusion or pain from losing Christ, Joseph of Arimathea held on with expectant hope. He lived with assurance that God was still in control and would send the answer. Hope was still his strategy, and Joseph clung to it even in the darkest hour.
Hope is not a strategy? I beg to differ. Wars may rage on and the economy languish. Illnesses may sideline me and I may never publish my stories. Yet, my hope is in the Lord and His plan. And that’s my strategy.
“Faith is the assurance that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)