In A Layman’s Guide to Applying the Bible, Walter Henrichsen mentions four approaches to hope. I’ve previously dealt with no hope and misplaced hope. The third approach Henrichsen calls ill-defined hope.
Our hope is ill defined if we can’t immediately describe it with clarity. This happens when we have not given much thought to our hope. A good example of ill-defined hope is the response of many Americans to the attack on September 11, 2001. USA Today ran a story in January of 2002 stating that church attendance increased by 25% shortly after the attack, but by the end of 2001, church attendance had returned to pre- 9/11 levels.
After the national tragedy, many people moved from complacency to seek security in some vague faith. They began attending church for a short period of time. But because that faith was not based on truth or on a real relationship with Jesus Christ, their attendance fell as their need for security decreased. Their hope remained ill defined and did not translate into a real living faith.
As Christian physicians, we may believe and even proclaim that our hope is in Jesus Christ, while actually placing our hope in the financial and personal security that our profession provides.
The test for where our true hope lies comes in the inevitable painful events that we encounter in this life.
Trial and suffering are the crucible where we are tested and our hope becomes well defined.
How well defined is your hope?
Prayer: Lord, help me gain clarity on my true hope…and let it be fully based on You.