Philippians 1:20 begins with a very important phrase. It says, “…it is my eager expectation and hope…” It’s the expression of a man in prison who had experienced more trials than the average person. One commentator 22 in christobserved, “Paul, the veteran of hundreds of lashes and a thousand indignities, did not know what pains and humiliations awaited him. Yet, there was no fear in Paul. Rather, there was bounding, eager confidence that whatever happened” things would work out for the best. Back in January I said, “I hope the Packers win the superbowl.” I was disappointed. When I plan on going fishing I say, “I hope it doesn’t rain.” I’m often disappointed. Many of the things I hope for brim with uncertainty. That’s not the case with Paul’s hope. He has a hope.

Biblical hope, however, is something entirely different. Paul combines two ideas into his positive expression about his future. He uses “eager expectation,” and then he adds “hope.” Another commentator put it this way, “Here Biblical hope is coupled with ‘eager expectation,’ an expression that appears only here and in Romans 8:19 where it describes physical creation’s ‘eager longing’ for ultimate redemption that will come with ‘the revealing of the sons of God.’ Thus, Paul’s statement ‘it is my eager expectation and hope’ referred to his intense expectation of what is sure to happen—his breathless confidence and certitude.” Paul’s hope brims with certainty.

When we fall into a hopeless mindset, we’ve fallen prey to Satan’s schemes. In Dante’s Inferno, there is a sign above the gates leading to hell. It reads, “Abandon all hope, Ye who enter here.” But Paul teaches us to face the future with a positive expectation because this is God’s intention for us. Satan wants us hopeless, God wants us filled with hope. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11. It’s probably one of yours also; “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord; plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God spoke these encouraging words to Israel amidst the most difficult time of the nation’s history. They were slaves in Babylon or about to be taken into slavery. My hope has two dimensions. The first is through time. I’m convinced, along with Paul, that whatever God allows to come into my life, it will eventually work out for my good. The second dimension is through eternity. As Edna Blubough wrote, “I have a hope beyond the grave; I am secure in God’s great love. I leave this world with all its cares for a mansion up above.” While the phrase, “I have a hope” is not nearly as exciting as “I have a dream,” it is much more certain of attainment. My hope, like Paul’s hope, is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and Jesus’ righteousness. Is there anything more certain?