To understand stubborn hope best, we must start with a firm grasp of what hope is. And sometimes its easiest to start with what it is not.
Hope is not wishful thinking. It isn't a Christmas list or genie in a bottle.
Hope is not optimism. It isn't finding the silver lining in the storm clouds or always declaring the glass half-full.
Hope is deeper than that and simpler somehow too. Hope is a gift we receive when we become believers in Jesus Christ. It comes through His word and through the Spirit within us. It is mysterious around the edges yet almost tangible in the middle.
I am no theologian, and I have only taken one theology class 19 years ago. I don't ever want to mislead someone in Scripture or give the impression that I fully understand all the mysteries within. I do not. I feel most comfortable when I declare my ignorance and rest under the umbrella of "His ways are not my ways." However, I must share a bit about where my beliefs about hope come from.
This passage in Romans 8 paints a picture of the hope I am talking about.
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." v23-28 [NIV]
This hope is not in what is seen, but in what we have been promised. The Spirit finds us in our hopeless state and intercedes on our behalf. We don't just hope for good to happen, we believe with faith that every word of the Bible is true. So when our days are messy and our hearts are heavy and our hands feel empty, the Spirit himself will intercede for us and remind us of the Truth that we believe. The Truth that is true whether we can see it today or not. This is where stubborn hope takes root.