“Being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer“ (Romans 12:13). That verse is written to a group of people who live in the midst of chaos, struggle, and persecution. To hope in something or someone means that I’ll live an expectation that something I desire or along for will happen. To hope means I trust that there is something more than I can see, touch, or feel. To hope means I don’t give up, even when I can’t see what’s ahead. To have Hope results in the belief that my life is not worthless, and one’s of the ways I do that is to add meaning and richness to the lives of others.
In English, hope is a somewhat abstract idea of expectation. The word for hoe in Hebrew(Tikvah), however, is more concrete. In Hebrew, the word means expectation, it also means cord or rope, which comes from the root word that means to bind or can you wait for or upon. Tikvah is a rope that we can hold onto when the world seems out of control or when we don’t know how to make it through a difficult season in life, like the promise given to the Israelites in captivity in a foreign land. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (tikvah) (Jeremiah 29:11). Is it possible that a rope can you give me hope? I can clean to God and cry out with the Psalmist, “ for you are my hope, Lord of God; my confidence from my youth (Psalm 71:5).
Tikvah is used in the biblical account found in the book of Joshua. As Joshua prepared to lead the Israelites into the promised land, he sent out two spies who come to the house of Rahab to turn them over, but instead, she hides them on the roof and deceives the King. Rahab is in a vulnerable place and tells the spies, “ I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you” (Joshua 2:9), This sounds like a hopeless situation.
She asked the spies to swear an oath that when Jericho is conquered, they will let Rahab and her family live. The spies say to Rahab, “We shall be free from this up unless we come into the land, you hide the cord of scarlet thread (Tikvah) in the window you let us down and gather into the house of your father, mother and brothers and all your father’s household” (Joshua 2:17-18). Spice keep their word and spare Rahab and her family. The scarlet cord was used here in a literal sense, but it gives us a picture of what hope looks like. The cord of Rahab’s only guarantee that her household would be spared by the Israelites. Though the physical cord has been tied to the window to ensure their safety, Rehab still had to wait for the realization of the spies’ promise. One of the most difficult thing to remember is that hope is rooted in waiting.
I imagine Rahab walked through the steps laid out in Romans 12:12 – being joyful in the hope that her family would be rescued, patient in the uncertainty, and praying to the one true God that she didn’t even know, but hoped would be her salvation.
How do we cling to hope and keep waiting? How do we keep doubt from overwhelming us? In my experience, the answer is rooted in the vital relationships with God, ourselves, and others. The spies needed Rahab in order to leave a dangerous situation; Rahab needed the spies to follow through with their promise to protect her family; Rahab needed to wait and trust the one true God; and Joshua, the leader of the Israelites needed assurance from God and the people who told him, “Be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:18:.
I connected relationship with God is like grasping onto a strong rope. We can cling too and depend on Him even when we can’t see the next right step. I need to rest in God, trusting that the issues I’m facing are part of what God is using to transform me. And like rehab in the five, I need to risk allowing other people into my life. God really is in control, and I will relinquish my anxiety over to him. I will find hope and I long for in the midst of chaos.