Hope – the partner of Faith
If faith is the foundation of all virtues then hope is the confident assurance that a life built on faith will be good, fruitful and bring God glory.
Like faith, hope is unseen.
“For in this hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope for who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:24-25).
Hope is the catalyst of each new venture, each new relationship, each life choice that might improve your lot or make you better in some way. Will it work? Can it be done? I hope so. And I step out on the foundation of faith and risk.
Without hope people who have been hurt in love would never try again. Without hope Abraham might have stopped short of his destiny. “Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations…” Romans 4:18a
For a person of faith like Abraham there is always room for hope in life, for our central hope is hope in God. “For in You, O Lord, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God.” Psalm 38:15
“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27.
The beautiful truth of the Christian life is that Christ indwells each believer. His present reality in community with your spirit creates the anticipation, the hope, of eternal life and victory over death.
Still, some people lose hope. Losing hope is one of life’s most devastating possibilities. Because unlike the other virtues that can be reignited, the void left by hope is replaced by despair, and despair is not easily overcome, for the soul feels dead and has given up. This is why broken trust, abuse, neglect or desertion can ruin a life, for it sucks out the hope and knocks the wind out of the soul. When hope is gone survival is reduced to the most basic needs and a person just stops caring about themselves or others.
For the person without hope the only answer to any solution, in the midst of despair is, ‘Why?’ Whatever you might propose, their heart can only reply, ‘Why?’ Any solution requires some kind of action-step on their part, even a small one, which they perceive will only lead to further rejection, so “Why? Why should I? The end will be the same.”
The only way to salvage a life without hope is the unfailing love of God, loving that person in practical ways that slowly bring healing to their broken soul. It is painful because it is the last thing they want and the only thing they need. It seems like they do everything in their power to get you to reject them, but you never do. By “Christ in you” you have the strength to love them, for years if need be, until they can hope again.
Like each virtue worth having in life, hope must be cultivated through discipline and practice. Commitment.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5, NKJV)
Upon the foundational virtue of faith, hope is practiced through the good; peace with God through Jesus Christ, and, through the ‘bad’, life’s trials and tribulations (which aren’t usually ‘bad’ in that they are redeemed by God for good in our lives. But they can be quite painful.) Through tribulation we gain perseverance, character and hope. And hope will never disappoint us, never let us down, because it is rooted deeply in the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Who, again, is our hope of glory (Christ in you, Colossians 1:27).
“Open my heart, Oh Lord, to be strengthened in hope, and, by Your grace, lead me to strengthen the hope of loved ones through an example of perseverance, character, and especially Your unfailing, unflinching, agape love.”