Second on Paul’s list of timeless and enduring spiritual traits is hope. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three,” Paul told the Corinthians (1 Cor. 13:13). Love gets a lot of air time, and for good reason: it’s the greatest. And faith certainly gets taught a lot since it’s one of scripture’s core themes. But hope sometimes feels like an overlooked middle child.
Sure, hope gets mentioned from time to time as something we shouldn’t lose. And we know in a generic, possibly obligatory sense, that God’s people ought to be hopeful. But on the whole, I wouldn’t say that Christians have become known for their hope. Sadly, quite the opposite could be said: we’ve become known for cynicism, fear and foreboding.
Peter challenged his readers to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). The implication is that our hopefulness ought to be so evident that it regularly elicits questions. “Aren’t you worried?” “Why are you so hopeful?” “Isn’t this causing you concern?” “How can you sleep at night?” Questions like these are asked of the hope-filled.
Abraham: The father of our faith… and hope
Abraham wasn’t just the father of faith. He also modeled the unshakable hope God’s people can carry, even in the most unpromising circumstances.
For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Rom. 4:16b-18, NLT)
While faith and hope are closely connected, they are distinct. Hebrews 11:1 says “faith is the substance of things hoped for…” Without hope, faith has nothing to substantiate. Faith needs a focus and that’s where hope comes in. Working in tandem, hope lays eyes on God’s promises and faith goes to work bringing them to pass.
Hope’s Foundation: God’s character
Both faith and hope rest upon the foundation of God’s character as a good and all-powerful Father. In order for Abraham to “contrary to hope, in hope believe” (Rom. 4:18a) , he had to hold to these two things: 1) God keeps His promises and 2) God actually could empower he and Sarah to conceive and birth a son. Romans 4:21 describes Abraham as “fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”
Between the delivery of the promise and its fulfillment, Abraham had a choice on where to place his focus: on his circumstances or on his God. Romans 4:19 says: “And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” Abraham did not allow the facts concerning he and Sarah’s bodies to shake his hope in God fulfilling the promise.
HOPE: Heaven’s Overriding Perspective Every-time
Perspective is everything, as they say. And Abraham demonstrated how to sustain one of hope. I said earlier that faith is heaven’s currency. Similarly, hope is heaven’s perspective.
Hope is Heaven’s Overriding Perspective Every-time. Overriding means “more important that any other considerations”. I believe the most important perspective the residents of God’s kingdom can have in any and every situation is one of hope.
David wrote in Psalm 27 that “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Ps. 27:13, NLT). Throughout that chapter, we can see how David resisted despair and hopelessness by clinging to the promises, power and goodness of God.
When we look at every situation life throws us with heaven’s perspective, we’ll always find hope. This is because at all times, on every occasion, heaven has a decidedly triumphant and hopeful outlook.