“I hope it doesn’t snow tomorrow,” we say, thinking of our plans to visit family or friends. Or, “We’re just hoping they finish the road repairs in front of the church before the wedding,” “I sure hope Susie calls after her plane lands.”
This kind of hope is wishful thinking, sometimes even foolish optimism, and it is not true hope. We’ve used the word this way so long that we’ve pretty much emptied it of meaning by the time we read Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
Is your hope an anchor for your soul? Has your wishful hope been converted at the foot of the cross to true hope? Job’s well-tested hope was enlivened by true faith in God—“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” That’s quite a lot different from merely hoping for the most comfortable outcome!
Could it be that our suffering, even that which we bring upon ourselves, provides us with the raw material for true hope? Hosea thought so. Speaking for God, he wrote, “I will make the Valley of Achor [which means “trouble”] a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15). I find it interesting that Achor and anchor are so similar in spelling.
The Valley of Achor, near Jericho, was named by Joshua after Achan brought sin into the camp. Achan’s name meant “trouble.” By stealing some of the spoils from the victory at Jericho, he had incurred the defeat in the battle of Ai. He and his family were stoned to death to purge the curse from the midst of the people. After his demise, the fighting men of Israel mounted a second attack and defeated Ai in a stroke. Joshua commemorated the day by naming the valley Achor, so the people would remember what had happened before the victory.
This is the same obscure valley that, six centuries later, the prophet Hosea declared God would make a “door of hope.”
“I will lead her [Israel] into the desert and speak tenderly to her… I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord” (Hosea 2:14, 19-20).
Today, twenty-seven centuries after Hosea prophesied those words of hope, we can look at them with the aid of the Light that has come into the world. Whatever our lot, He can do it. He can walk into our valley of trouble and convert all our false hope to true hope, where we can be anchored securely.
With His sustaining help, we can dwell in the reality of 1 Corinthians 13: “Faith, hope, love abide, these three.”
**Excerpt originally published in the Jan/Feb 2003 Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.