Boy disappointment on bench
Boy disappointment on bench

Are you a prisoner of hope?

I am. It’s just not in me to give up. I simply cannot not hope.

But that is not to say that all my earthly hopes come to pass.

Far from it. Many, many, many are dashed.

I hoped and prayed one son would start. Many games he barely played. Every drive home, I had to talk him off the ledge.

I hoped and prayed the other son would thrive in college. He has not. After one semester, he’s moving back.

I hoped and prayed that my husband and I would agree on a major life decision. We have not. It’s been 15 years and we still don’t see it the same.

For all these things I hoped and I was disappointed.

Yet I remain a prisoner of hope.

How can that be?

Two Kinds of Hope

Scripture uses the word “hope” when God has spoken.

In other words, hope is confident assurance that God will keep his promises. In the examples above, I did not have a promise from God. Not for a son to play ball or stay in college, or even for Jim and me to see eye to eye.

I love how Bible teacher Alec Motyer explained the two different ways we use the word “hope.” In earthly terms, hope is certainty of time and uncertainty of event—as in, “I hope my son starts on Friday,” or, “I hope he’ll reenroll in the fall.

Biblically, hope is uncertainty of time and certainty of event.


But biblically, hope is uncertainty of time and certainty of event—as in, God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain,” (Revelation 21:4, ESV) or “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, ESV).

Death will be no more and we will reap a harvest. Both are rock-solid, and for sure.

I do not know when all of God’s promises will be fulfilled, but I am certain they will.

This is the hope that will not disappoint.

The Hope That Won’t Disappoint

Biblical hope is banking on God’s promises, even though we don’t know when they will come true. By the way, my point is not that we shouldn’t use the word “hope” in the “I wish” way.

Only that it’s important that we know that the Bible uses the word “hope” differently from the way we often do. Because after all, Romans 5:5 (NASB) says that “hope does not disappoint us” and we know many of our hopes do disappoint us.

How well we know.

But does that mean that God broke his word?


It only means we weren’t using the word the way the Bible does. Because Romans 15:13 says that it’s “by believing” that we overflow with hope. It’s because I know that other meaning, the “God- has-spoken-and-it-will-happen-hope,” that I remain a prisoner of hope.

Prisoners of Hope

In case you’re not familiar, that phrase “prisoner of hope” comes from the Old Testament book of Zechariah. As in “Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double” (Zechariah 9:12, ESV).

Through faith in Christ and hope in his promises, we are delivered from the pit. Then, I love how C.H. Spurgeon puts it, “the moment you are drawn up out of the pit, run to the castle for shelter.”

Guess what?The banner flying over that castle is love. We hope because of God’s love.

“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5, NASB).

Do you see the reason Paul gave for this won’t-disappoint hope?

(Christmas) Hope That Won’t Disappoint

It’s God’s love poured out, not drizzled over, but showered down on us through the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our no-tears, no-sadness future (Ephesians 1:14).

Heaven is a world of love. From that heaven God sends the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. He brings heaven’s love down to earth and fills our hearts with a sense of it. We know we are loved. We are sure of our place in heaven because God the Father has given us his promise. But we are also sure of it because the Holy Spirit has brought the atmosphere and love of heaven down to us here and now! Love incarnate—Jesus Christ—came down to earth at Christmas.

Sinclair Ferguson, “Love Came Down At Christmas

That is why, even when I’m disappointed and it feels so hard to wait for God’s promises to come to pass, I cannot not hope.

Because I do not know when the Hope of all the world will wipe away every disappointed tear from our eyes.

But I am 100 percent sure that the God of hope will.

Oh friend, are you?

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” 

—Psalm 39:7 (ESV)

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *