An anchor’s purpose is to keep a sailing vessel in one place. Connected to the vessel by a strong chain, anchors help fight against wind and strong currents that can send the ship off course. Usually made of heavy metal with hooks that can dig into the sea bottom, they help the ship stay put in rough weather and powerful storms. These secure and dependable tethers symbolize how hope is an anchor for our souls.
Why is an Anchor a Symbol of Hope?
Early Christians carved anchors into the soft marble tombstones inside catacombs as they hid from Roman persecution. They were a secret symbol used to express their faith and identify themselves. They were an encouraging reminder that Jesus was their strong anchor in these very troubling times.
Just as a ship’s anchor holds firmly to the bottom of the sea, our hope in God is just as immovable. He stabilizes us, holding us fast to Himself.
We find anchor symbolism in Christianity in the book of Hebrews 6:19 as it relates to hope-
“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.” (ESV)
What exactly is this hope we have?
Christian Definition of Hope
When our children were younger, we’d exclaim with enthusiasm, “Make a wish!” as they blew out their candles. They thought if they kept their wish a secret, and blew out all the candles, their wish would come true.
A Christian’s definition of hope is much more than wishes or desires that still hold a bit of doubt.
The Biblical definition of hope is much different. Biblical hope tells us we can confidently expect God to do what He has promised.
The strength of our hope is not from desire, but in His faithfulness throughout generations!
The author of Hebrews continues on to give us an image to further encourage us to have confident hope:
“A hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:20 ESV.
This verse is an image of Christ Jesus tearing apart the temple curtain at the time of His death.
This curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (also called the Holy of Holies) in the temple. Before His sacrifice for our sins, only the High Priest could enter this area once a year and make atonement for the sins of the entire nation.
Jesus’ death and atonement for our sin removed this barrier. We are free to approach God anytime. Jesus is now our High Priest in Heaven; continually interceding for us; leading us into God’s very presence.
Jesus, the anchor of our souls, has secured our hope in eternal life.
Stories about Hope in the Bible
There are many stories in the Bible that help explain the concept of hope.
Abraham Hoped Against Hope
The first story that comes to mind in the Old Testament regarding hope is Abraham. He had hope in the promises God made to him- that He would make him into a great nation and that he would be a blessing to others.
God even took an oath in His own name (Genesis 22:16) when He promised Abraham many descendants.
He “wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs (that’s us!) of what was promised… God did this so that… we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.” Hebrews 6:17-18.
God would never lie or break an oath. We can have complete confidence in all the promises of God.
Abraham waited in hope (with questionable decisions in the waiting…) for the birth of his son Isaac.
Paul tells us in Romans 4:18- “Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him.”
How does your hope in God’s promises affect your decision making and obedience?
Jeremiah- Hope and A Future
With God’s people suffering from a series of droughts, Jeremiah asks God to remember the covenant with His people. He says,
“Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, O Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you.” Jeremiah 14:22
The Israelites trusted the promises of God. They were 100% sure in their hope that was rooted in God, even though their behavior had not honored Him.
God forgives the repentant sinner. Never lose hope because of past sins! God wants to bless you!
Paul on Hope
The Old Testament emphasizes hope as trust in God and his promises. In the New Testament, Paul expands on that truth with Jesus Christ as our hope.
●In the introduction Paul gives in Titus 1:2, Paul describes himself as having “a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life.”
●His message to the Colossians speaks of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
When God sent Jesus to earth, he was fulfilling His plan and promises- to send His Son to live in the hearts of all who would believe in Him.
●Paul also tells us our hope is a gift of the Holy Spirit. I had never thought of hope as a gift until I read this verse from Paul in Romans 15:13-
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The apostle Paul prayed that the God who gives hope will also give them joy (as they think of what God has planned for them) and peace (as they rest in His promises.)
I love this verse! Hope is not something we sense or experience. It comes from the work of the Holy Spirit within us.
Pin me for later!
Hope is Important
It’s hard to read the paper or listen to the news and not feel a bit of despair over our society. It seems the enemy is making headway and good is being punished.
But God doesn’t want us in despair or panic when we read the discouraging headlines or the storms of life hit.
How do we tap into hope when we need it the most?
While we wait in hope for our eternal life in heaven, how does hope affect our daily lives right now? How can we put it to use TODAY?
Our Christian hope can work in our lives every single day. It might not be something we focus on very often, but maybe we should make it a priority.
It can give us security in our day-to-day lives that nothing else here on earth can give.
Let’s return to more encouragement from the writer of Hebrews:
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23.
Hold fast! We need to be rooted, grounded, and firm in our hope as we go through life.
Benefits of Hope
Our hope can keep us going through the hard times that inevitably come our way.
In those times, instead of hoping for the outcome we want or in the timing that works best for us, we can trust that in those hard times, God hasn’t left our side.
His plans, promises, and timing are perfect. We have a trustworthy anchor to provide the strength we need in any storm.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” Romans 5:3-5, NLT.
Our hope gives us a tiny glimpse of God’s perspective in those moments. He can use them to develop our character, so we do not waste our trials.
Our suffering can have a constructive purpose, not be just a crushing defeat or a useless test in our lives.
Here is another dimension to living out our hope. Paul greets the Colossians this way:
“We have heard of your faith in Christ and of your love for all God’s people because what you hope for is kept safe for you in heaven.” -Colossians 1:4-5, CEV.
When Paul says “our hope is kept safe in Heaven”, he is telling us our hope in our salvation and destiny is secure. If we ever doubt or waver in our faith, we only remember that Heaven awaits us.
Our Living Hope
“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.” 1 Peter 1:3 ESV.
Believing in Jesus as our Savior causes us to be born again into a living hope. He grants us an unshakeable living hope that does not fade with time, nor be taken from us.
Our eternal life begins the minute we believe. Nothing this world throws at us changes our eternal destination and experience in the here and now. We have an indestructible living hope to carry us through our lives!
Hope Anchors the Soul
Hope anchors my soul to God. It gives me assurance and peace that even though I don’t understand everything today, I can be confident that my life has an eternal purpose.
Our hope gives us the tools to live on earth with an eye on heaven.
Stay firmly attached to the Anchor of your soul, and even though your ship may be lashed by the wrath of a storm, you can feel secure and confident.
We can wake up each morning with faith and hope in our hearts:
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23.
Blessings of Hope!
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
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