In today’s casual use of language, the word hope has become a common verb. “I hope that chicken is still on sale” or “I hope my husband remembers our anniversary this year!” Rarely do we hear one use it in regards to the actual definition of a desire for good accompanied by expectation.
The word hope was first used in the Bible in Ruth 1:12. Naomi was disheartened by the state of her life. Her husband was dead, her sons were dead, she was in a foreign land with no one but her daughters-in-law, and they were not even of her nationality. As she prepared to travel home to Bethlehem, Naomi said to her dead sons’ wives,
…Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me!”
Naomi had no hope for a future of little more than begging and loneliness. There was surely a desire for good in her life, but she had zero expectation of that good. In her mind, her situation was beyond help. In spite of Naomi’s urging, daughter-in-law Ruth chose to stay with her and travel to Bethlehem. Although she herself was certainly unsure of what to expect, Ruth made a vow to stay with Naomi and to follow the Lord. (Ruth 1: 16,17) Upon arrival in Bethlehem, Ruth (after an incredibly romantic “should be made into a PBS special” courtship) ended up marrying Boaz, a man who stepped up to the plate and redeemed his distant family members from a life of poverty and hopelessness.
But did Naomi herself ever find hope or did she remain the tag-along mother-in-law? Oh no! Naomi ended up with more hope that she ever could have imagined. She ended up nursing the very child that would start the chain of events leading to the coming of Jesus. (Ruth 4:14-17) Ruth and Boaz had a baby boy. This little guy’s name was Obed and he later became the father of Jesse, who in turn became the father of King David. And who is in the lineage of David?
Our True and Perfect Hope – Jesus Christ.
Father, thank You for hope. Thank You that in spite of what my circumstances look like, You are always there moving and preparing things for my good. Help me to press into the Hope I have in You. Amen.
─ Jen Gorton (November 2010)