In contrast to the characteristics of false hope, which rests on crumbling foundations, true hope rests on a solidly biblical foundation. In the book, Introduction to Biblical Counseling, Wayne Mack contributed a number of chapters. One of those chapters is ‘Instilling Hope in the Counselee,’ where he outlines the difference between false hope and true hope. Here are 6 of the characteristics of true hope that he lists.
6 Characteristics of true hope
True hope is a biblically based expectation of good
- True hope is based on the promises of God. Romans 4:18 says of Abraham, “In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, ‘So, shall your descendants be, ‘” His hope was in God’s promises.
True hope is the result of true salvation
- In Scripture, hope is always tied to the new birth by the Holy Spirit and faith in Christ. Consider these verses:
- Colossians 1:25–27 – Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
- 1 Timothy 1:1 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
- These verses clearly state that Christ is our hope. A person without Christ is a person without true hope. Jesus is the sum and substance of true hope.
True hope is holistic in focus
- By holistic is meant the whole, as in God’s plan for the universe, not only the part, as in an individual life. True hope finds encouragement in the eternal as well as the temporal and in the intangible as well as the tangible. Read Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 2:8-10 for an example of a man whose hope was holistic in focus.
True hope is realistic
- Even though true hope expects good to eventually come from trials, it does not try to deny the reality of sin and suffering, or the pain they cause. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good, not that all things are good. True hope does not preclude tears and grief, it does not rest on an illegitimate perception of personal capabilities.
True hope is inseparable from a diligent and accurate study of God’s Word
- The 2 men on the Emmaus road were walking along together discussing the events of the week . When Jesus explained the scriptures to them, they said, “were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us?” (Luke 24:23). Their hope was renewed by the increased understanding of the Word of God.
- Consider Psalm 119:49 – “Remember the word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope,” and Psalm 130:5 – “I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in is word do I hope.” Scripture is the means by which God gives hope.
True hope is based on knowledge
- Romans 5:2–3 says, “through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance…” and James 1:2–3 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
- Paul and James say that true hope is based on what we know, not on how we feel. If that were the case, we could never have hope during painful trials. The more truth we understand from God’s Word, the more hopeful we will be even in the worst circumstances. But, if we base our hope on feelings, it will crumble.