My mind is filled with many thoughts as 2013 comes to a close. By the time some of you get around to reading this post, 2014 will already be here.

There is so much to be thankful for; answered prayers, friends and family, work, health,and the relative freedom of worship most of us still experience. There are resolutions I know I’d like to make; but having failed to keep so many in the past, making new ones seems rather pointless.

In preparation for the New Year, I’ve been doing a newsletter at work. The Hebrew word that letter will focus on is hope. Somehow that seems to me quite an appropriate word to meditate upon as I think about 2014 and the unknown opportunities and challenges ahead.

With the help of a couple of friends and a lot of research, I learned some special things about hope, as it is expressed in the Old Testament. I knew that the modern word for hope in Hebrew is tikvah— תקוה, and I thought that was the word for hope in the Old Testament as well. But not exactly…

I learned that the root for hope is kaveh (קוה), and that a there is a different root with the same spelling which means to gather or to collect (for example see Gen. 1:9 and Is. 22:11). I then discovered that the first usages of hope itself are connected to waiting with expectation, as in Gen. 49:18, “For your salvation I wait (קִוִּיתִי) O Lord.” Then I discovered a most surprising usage of the work for hope. In Joshua 2:18 and 21, Rahab’s scarlet cord is referred to as a “תִקְוַה”—the word which, in modern Hebrew, means hope. What about that other root, meaning to gather?

Jeremiah 14 provides a word play with these two different roots: Jeremiah speaks about the lack of rain resulting in drought. The drought is due to the nation’s sin,yet there is hope—God is mikveh Israel (ישראל מקוה). The word mikveh is derived from kavehto gather, particularly a place where water is gathered. A friend explained tome that the water motif is dominant in Jeremiah. In Jer. 17:30 God is the source of living water. Eventually (in Ezra 10:2), mikveh is used as a synonym for hope (תקוה).

I pondered all of this. Gathered, waiting with expectation, a scarlet cord that saves a life based on a promise—does the modern word for hope have a deeper meaning? Most of the usages of this word for hope or expectation/waiting are active. You don’t hope for something and sit back and do nothing. If Rahab had only hoped that she would be saved, but had not hung the scarlet cord out of her window, she would have died with all the others in Jericho. Her salvation rested on an action (hanging the scarlet cord out of a window), and then waiting, trusting, and expecting that the spies would do as they had promised.

This is the kind of hope I need—that we need, in our relationship with God. I am still pondering what actively trusting God means. What scarlet cord is God asking me to hang out of my window as I trust Him to fulfill His promises to me? I am struggling with some health issues. Perhaps I really do need to take better care of myself, and trust HIM with the results. Maybe those resolutions I am afraid to make are a scarlet cord calling out to me—resolve to do and trust your Savior with the results.

As I consider these things, I am aware of one thing: I want 2014 to be a year of active hope in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May your New Year too be filled with active hope!