What is Hope?

Joseph Park

Joseph Park

Senior Chaplain

When I was working as a hospital chaplain, I made regular visits to the Intensive Care Unit. One late afternoon, I walked into the unit, and the Nurse in Charge grabbed me and said, “Thank God you’re here.” 

She pointed me to a patient who was refusing to go into the operating theatre until someone came and prayed for him. I walked over to the patient, surrounded by theatre nurses and an anaesthetist who all looked pretty annoyed with the patient for his usual and untimely request, holding everyone up. 

I leaned over and introduced myself. He said, “Can you pray for me?” 

I asked him, “You know any prayer?”

To my great surprise, he launched straight into “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” 

I had no choice but to join him for the rest of the prayer. 

As the Lord’s prayer was being echoed in the Intensive Care Unit, he was taken into the theatre for surgery that would change his life for better or worse. I later learnt that he was taken in for amputation of his leg ravaged by gangrene.

I wondered afterwards, what drives us to pray?

I think it’s hope. 

It’s because we are hardwired to hope. 

Whether it’s a good outcome for surgery or a better situation in life, we all hope because that’s who we are. Without hope, we are as good as a leg ravaged by gangrene. 

But what is hope?

I once told a patient about a click bait article I came across on the internet that said HOPE stands for: Hold On, Pain Ends. She took this well because it reminded her that the chronic pain that gripped her and robbed her of the quality of life in retirement would one day pass.

But hope is more than the end of pain, even though pain is unbearable at times. Graham Mabury, a Christian pastor who started Lifeline in WA in the 80s, defined the hope I want to hold on to.

Hope, according to the Bible, is utterly relational. 

We hope in Someone, not in something.

"Hope, according to the Bible, is utterly relational. We hope in Someone, not in something."


The Old Testament scriptures attest to this definition of hope: 

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” Ps 33:20

And finally, Psalm 42:5 commands, “Put your hope in God.”

God is our hope, not anything else. 

What’s more mind-blowing is that hope became a living person. 

Hope has a name now. His name is Jesus. 

Easter, in essence, is hope breaking into a hopeless world. 

When Christ rose from the dead, God’s ultimate redemption of hopelessness became a reality. As Jesus proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life!” (John 11:25) in front of the tomb where his beloved friend’s body lay, where his followers were mourning, and his disciples were lost for words, the new era of hope was birthed. By rising from the dead, Jesus became hope.

We do not place our ultimate hope in human wisdom, education, government, social movements, science or anything else to transform our hopeless world, but in Jesus. He is the hope for humanity, period. Easter proves this message and affirms our confidence in the hope we place on Jesus for salvation and redemption of our horrible and beautiful world.

What was the first thing Jesus said to the women at the tomb after he was raised from the dead? 
It was “Hello” or “Greeting!” It can also mean “Rejoice!” And this is the message we are to preach to ourselves and share with our neighbours during this Easter. 

Be joyful in this hope, Christ Jesus, who rose from the dead for our salvation. 

May the hope of resurrection fill your hearts with joy and assurance as you go forth in faith, knowing that Christ’s victory over death is your hope and promise. May you live each day in the light of this truth, sharing the love and grace of the risen Lord with all you meet.  Amen. 

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