I was having a conversation the other day about the way (I think) we misuse the word “hope” in our society. It seems to me that we confuse the word “hope” with “wish” when speaking about things we’d like to happen or not happen.
In my opinion “wish” is usually self-focused, its about wanting something to work out the way we want it to, to suit us and our perception of how things should be. “Hope” on the other hand is based on things that are usually out of our control yet based in truth and that more than likely will come to pass.
I wanted to know what the definition of each word is, so I surfed over to Dictionary.com and found the following:
1. to want; desire; long for (usually followed by an infinitive or a clause): I wish to travel. I wish that it were morning.
2. to desire (a person or thing) to be (as specified): to wish the problem settled.
1. to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
2. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best
I think the biggest difference I see is that “hope” brings with it a confidence that something will happen and this is usually based on a proven track record or a known truth while “wish” is really based on nothing other than a want or desire or a whimsical notion of “if only… then”.
For example I may want a great result in an exam. Hoping for that great result is within reason when its based on the truth that I’ve paid attention in class, studied hard and prepared for the exam. If I haven’t done the above then the best I can do is “wish” for a good result because, lets face it, the odds are against me. I know this is far from definitive and I’m no language expert believe me, but I raise this difference because I believe that it’s affecting our ability to effectively share the Gospel.
The Gospel is all about “Hope”, Jesus came to give us hope and that hope is based in the truth of who God is and the promises He has given to us. If “hope” is confused with “wish” as I suggest, doesn’t that mean there’s a greater risk of people misunderstanding the Gospel message? Does it also mean that we can be lazy, not prepare (study God’s Word, seek His will, serve Him and others) and just hope (more like wish) that God will work things out in our lives? Could that be why so many “christians” are missing the point of serving God? It’s an interesting idea I think, and something I’d like to throw out there for comment.