I Prayed have prayed
Lord Jesus, You are our living hope! Thank You for our salvation and eternal life. Help us keep our eyes on this glorious prize!

As believers, we are born again to a living hope that will never disappoint us or vanish from our eyes. But do we really understand the profound implication of that truth?

Pray for your fellow intercessor.

 

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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3–4 ESV).

Read those verses again, focusing on the words rendered in boldface; with Resurrection Sunday upon us, we may already be reflecting on what they mean. This all depends on our definition of hope, and on where we’ve place that hope.

In today’s world, we are facing many situations that desperately require a redeeming hope. Crime, corruption, injustice, and war continue to plague humanity. In response, some may throw their hands up in despair, while others keep holding onto hope, regardless.

In the secular world, hope is often equated with a “positive” or optimistic feeling or state of mind. But the Bible teaches us that hope is much more than merely being optimistic. In Old Testament Hebrew, the word for hope is tiqvah, meaning something that is expected.

More specifically, the word can be defined as a strong cord or line. In the biblical story of Jericho, we see the word tiqvah used in an amazing way. Surprisingly, a prostitute named Rahab who was living in that city placed her faith in the God of Israel. Consequently, she put her own life at risk by hiding the two Israelite spies on her roof. Her expectation (hope) was that she and her family would therefore be granted clemency and protection at the moment of military destruction she knew was coming. To secure this hope, however, there was something important she had to do first.

Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line [tiqvah] of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by … (Joshua 2:18 KJV).

This verse could thus be translated as: … thou shalt bind this hope of scarlet thread in the window … . In order to receive salvation and deliverance from the destruction of Jericho, Rahab had to act on her faith. She had to put her hope in the promise she was given.

Later, as shown in verse 21, Rahab secured her hope:And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line [tiqvah — hope] in the window.

This scarlet line (cord, hope) described in the story of Rahab and Jericho mirrors our salvation through Jesus Christ. As Christians, we must act on our faith by putting our trust in the Savior. No matter what disaster comes, we have that secure scarlet cord of hope to grab hold of. Even if our material world is destroyed — even if our very bodies succumb to physical death — we are covered by the blood of Christ. Our redemption is sealed. This is the hope that can never be taken or shaken.

More Than a Feeling

There are some great examples in history which remind us that hope is more than a feeling. In fact, the true hope of eternal salvation guides the actions of those who fully understand its meaning.

Father Thomas Conway was the last chaplain to give his life for his flock during World War II. He was on board the USS Indianapolis on July 30, 1945, when the ship was struck by two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine. The ship sank in 12 short minutes, taking the lives of 300 men with it. About 900 men survived the initial attack and the ship’s sinking, only to be stranded in shark-infested waters, and having virtually no supplies. Because of the secrecy of the mission and some errors in communication, help would not arrive for the sailors until four days later.

During that trying time, hope became difficult, if not impossible, to grasp. But there was one man who would not let it fade away. For three and a half days, Father Conway swam among the men scattered in the water. Some had been badly burned by the ship’s fuel, while others were delirious from the heat, thirst, fevers, and exhaustion. Sharks circled about the terrified and injured men as they cried out for help.

In his book Ordeal by Sea, Thomas Helms writes: “Father Thomas Conway swam from group to group, never stopping to rest, praying with the men, encouraging those who were frightened, trying to reason with the maddened. His faith and his prayers gave solace to many.”

Lt. Commander Lewis L. Haynes, survivor of the USS Indianapolis, told the Saturday Evening Post about the hopelessness of the situation and how Father Conway strengthened the men:

“All thoughts of rescue are gone, and our twisted reasoning has come to accept this as our life until the end is reached. A life with nothing but the sky, a shimmering horizon and endless wastes of water. … But we have not lost everything. To the contrary, we have found one comfort — a strong belief to which we cling. God seems very close. Much of our feeling is strengthened by the chaplain, who moves from one group to another to pray with the men. The chaplain, a priest, is not a strong man physically, yet his courage and goodness seem to have no limit.”

Certainly, the situation of these men seemed hopeless. Over the course of several excruciating days and nights, the 900 survivors died off in droves. Many drowned, and others experienced hallucinations from drinking sea water. Confused sailors swam away to islands that didn’t exist, and sharks picked off men with bleeding wounds.

Nonetheless, Father Conway continued his mission of sharing the gospel. One survivor said: “He kept working until he was exhausted. … He made us believe that we could be rescued.”

After many days of ministering, Father Conway became so worn out that he succumbed to delirium, eventually slipping into a coma. Sadly, he did not survive. But he had never lost hope, because his expectation was for something much greater than an earthly life. This is why he was able to share the gospel up until the very end.

He could have put all his hope in getting back home.

He could have put his hope in returning to his former life.

But these things were not secure or eternal. Conway set his eyes set on a hope that couldn’t be taken away. Whether in delirium, or death, this was an expectation that was always there, one he had been waiting for since he received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Knowing this, he was able to fight the good fight until he took his last breath.

Though Father Conway perished at sea, rescue eventually came for the men of the USS Indianapolis. Of the 1,195 who were initially on board, there were only 316 survivors. But miraculously, the number 316 tells a story of hope.

As John 3:16 declares: declares, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (ESV).

Eternal life is the strong cord of hope that Christians should always cling to. If we put our hope in this truth, we will be able to face even the worst of disasters.

We can put our hope in the economy, leaders, elections, family, health, a better job, or any number of earthly things that can certainly be lost. While there is nothing wrong with hoping or praying for good outcomes, we must always remember that we can lose these things. But there is one hope that we can never lose: our salvation in Jesus Christ.

Rahab put her hope in something eternal: … for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath (Joshua 2:11).

We can pray confidently:

Lord Jesus, our hope is not in this world. Instead, our scarlet cord is bound to the truth that You give us eternal salvation in a sinking world. Your blood has guaranteed this promise, and nothing can separate us from it.

How does knowing that we have a secure, eternal “rope of hope” help us face the troubles of this life? Share your thoughts below!

Angela Rodriguez is an author, blogger, and homeschooling mom who studies the historical and biblical connections between Israel and the U.S. Visit her blogs at 67owls.com and 100trumpets.com. She is also the author of Psalm 91: Under the Wings of Jesus, and her first children’s book, Hallelujah’s Great Ride, was released in September 2023. Photo Credit: 

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Darlene Estlow
April 1, 2024

Thank you so much for this message. We often look to the good life as what God wants for us, but God does not always plan the good life for us. It is good we can take refuge in Jesus. Thank you for Father Conway’s gift of life to many sailors! Thank you for his commitment to what you had called him to do. What an encouragement.

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Patty DeGroot
April 1, 2024

Angela, I needed to hear that story of Father Conway! Thank U so much for sharing it!

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Vicki Smith
March 31, 2024

Thank you for your wonderful message this Easter day. My family is coming today I pray we will be reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice and suffering that brought us forgiveness and reconciliation w God. Blessings …Vicki Smith

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Vick Smith
March 31, 2024

Thank you so much so for your words that I can share w my family today at our Easter celebration…pls pray many will be saved within my family and the lost all over the world. Vicki Smith

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