It’s a word we all know, of course. Use so regularly we probably never really stop to think about it. But since yesterday marked the first week of Advent–the week of hope–I thought it appropriate to pause and actually look at the word.
Hope is from the Old English hopian, which is in turn borrowed from North Sea Germanic languages, so has cognates in Dutch and similar dialects but not in most other Germanic tongues. The word has been around pretty much forever…but it had one very specific meaning until the 13th century: “to hope for salvation or mercy from God; to have faith or trust in God’s word.” Hope was a purely theological term, a word for the virtue in the faith.
By the 1200s, the word hope had expanded…one might even say that it weakened…to “to wish for something.” But as we look toward the coming of Christ during the Advent season, it’s important to remember where the word actually comes from and what it actually means.
We don’t just hope for the present we want or the weather we want or anything else we want. We hope for Christ’s salvation, we hope for His mercy, we hope in the Lord.
Next week we’ll take a look at peace, as we’re in that week of Advent!