The Power of Hope

One of the more interesting books I read this last year was Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others. The author, Shane Lopez, was one of the lead researchers in the area of hope before his untimely death in 2016. Though Dr. Lopez takes a secular approach to the topic, I found a great deal of overlap between his conclusions and how the Bible presents hope. The empirical evidence along with revealed knowledge suggests we are “hard-wired” to be hopeful.

On May 24, 2009, at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in San Francisco, KU and the World Gallup Poll presented their findings from a survey of 150,000 adults in 140 countries. They believed their sample repesented 95% of the world’s population. Two statistics stand out. 89% of people worldwide expect the next five years to be as good or better than their current life. 95% expected their life in five years to be as good or better than their life was five years ago. Martin Luther was right when he observed, “Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.” Regardless of race or ethnicity or gender, whether one is rich or poor, whether one lives under a corrupt or less corrupt government, whether one is religious or irreligious, human beings are innately hopeful. Hope is the belief in a future that is better than the present.

Alongside faith and love, hope is one of three core elements of Christianity (1 Corinthians 13:13). Hope and faith are a temporary but integrated pair — “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Even God is hopeful. Paul says that God “subjected [the creation] to futility…in hope" (Romans 8:20). The gospel is tailored to appeal to our intrinsic hopefulness. Hope is woven throughout the Christian faith.

Dr. Lopez’s research led him to observe four traits shared by those who are motivated by hope.

  1. Hopeful people believe their future will be better than their present.

  2. They have a hand in achieving their better future.

  3. They anticipate obstacles will stand in the way of realizing their better future.

  4. There are many paths to their better future.

Because of hope’s integral role in the Christian faith, I believe we can see all four of these elements at work. In future posts, I plan to examine each of these elements in light of Scripture.