The Importance of Giving Hope

July 31st, 2020 by posted in Counseling, Suffering

One of the most important aspects in biblical counseling is giving hope. My experience, however, is that many biblical counselors find this a very secondary issue. We have the tendency to focus on heart idols well, we ask fairly good questions, and while sometimes we struggle giving good homework, that is always in the forefront of our thinking. But when it comes to giving hope, I think we are often lax.

Why is giving hope so important? There are multiple reasons, but the first may be as simple as people will not come back unless they have hope that you, using the Bible, can help them. Sometimes people come to us saying we are their last hope, or even that they really have no hope (but if they really had no hope, they would not come at all).

The Bible talks much about hope, often in the midst of suffering. In fact, the idea of hope is described approximately 146 times in the Old Testament and 108 times in the New Testament.[i]

  • Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
  • Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
  • Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Jesus is the basis for hope:

  • Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
  • John 11:1-46, the story of Lazarus
  • 1 Timothy 4:10, “For to this end we toil and strive,[a] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
  • 1 Peter 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Hope motivates us to change:

  • Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Hope is given when we help the counselee depend on, focus on, and trust in the sufficiency of Scripture. The more we are able to persuade our counselee of the sufficiency of Scripture in their lives, and the work of the Holy Spirit through his Word, the more the counselee will develop a poise towards hope. Our counselees are living in a world that is cynical and often hopeless.

And so, we give hope to help promote transformation in our counselees by inspiring them to develop an attitude and a poise towards hope. A sustained perspective of hope influences the counselee in a positive direction. “Even though we cannot see God, when we look inward, we can see him, despite ourselves, for he has given us a foundation of living hope through his word and spirit. Within us, he is our “hope of glory”. Therefore, for believers living in an age of cynicism it matters greatly where we set our gaze and on what we look to give us proper perspective.” [ii]

[i] “Hope,” in New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 2:238=44.

[ii] Jason G. Duesing, “Mere Hope”, p62

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