Luke 1:46-56: Mary’s Song.
Poetic Reading: Reread all “Hope” Poems
Family Reading: Bartholomew’s Passage –Week One: Saturday
I posed the question to my family, “What is hope?” My ten-year-old eagerly raised his hand and said, “If I say, ‘I hope I have a good day,’ I mean ‘I wish I have a good day.'”
That was the way I hoped he would respond.
Our English definition of “hope” is “the belief or expectation that something wished for can or will happen.” It goes on to state “a virtuous desire for future good” with 1 Corinthians 13:13 as the Christian meaning for “hope.”
But, our English definition of “hope” is not quite biblical. As my ten-year-old did, we interchange the words “hope” and “wish.” Yet, those words are defined very differently in the Hebrew and Greek.
Before I go further, I should state I am not a Hebrew or Greek expert. I simply used my copy of The Strongest NASB Exhaustive Concordance and did a word study of “hope” and “wish.” I discovered the Hebrew language of the Old Testament uses several words for “hope” and “wish.” The Greek language of the New Testament consolidates the words into two to four. I wrote down each numeric reference and wrote down the definitions with a few biblical references for each.
Most of the Hebraic words for “hope” include the word “expectation” as part of the definition. The Greek words includes the word “trust” along with “expectation.” Therefore, the first part of our English definition is true. “Hope is the belief or expectation.” But, here the similarities end.
The words for “wish” in Hebrew and in Greek are defined not by expectation but by intention. One of the Hebrew words, “nephesh,” means “a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion.” As a family, we agreed this particular word sounds selfish. The Greek words used in the New Testament focus on “desire,” “will,” ” intent,” even “unattainable wish.” Unlike a hope with the anticipation of an expected outcome, a wish is bent on a desire that may or may not be fulfilled.
My husband wisely directed us to 1 Peter 3:15a (NIV)–“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Knowing my son would answer as I hoped or expected, my wish or desire is that he and his brothers will see beyond our misuse of these words, especially in relation to scripture. With full prayerful intention, I do expect our lesson on the words “hope” and “wish” will result, not in futility, but in greater trust in the Reason for our hope.