As the sun begins its rapid descent to the far horizon and darkness begins to quickly cloak the world, where is the hope that light will come again to the world? For anyone who has witnessed the circular nature of the sun (it rises, it sets, it rises, it sets, and so on), there is the faith (based on the personal experience with the patterns of the sun) that the sun will again rise in the morning. Do I need hope to have faith? Conversely, do I need faith to have hope?
Webster’s Dictionary defines “hope” as being, “trust that what is wanted will happen.” Webster’s Dictionary defines “faith” as “unquestioning belief.” Hebrews 11:1 defines “faith” as the following:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
In the course of living, I hope that I will get to work on time, I hope that I will pass the examination in class, I hope that my business venture will prosper, I hope that the waiter will get my order right, and I hope for many other things. Will my faith in God be destroyed, when my hopes are not realized? No, because it is not hope that sustains my faith, but it is my faith that gives rise to my hopes.
A man falls into a rushing river and is quickly swept away. As the man is pulled under the water’s surface, his hope of being saved fall. While the man confronts the reality that he is drowning, he is suddenly pushed upward, above the water’s surface and his hope of being saved are revived.
As the man becomes invigorated with the hope of being saved, he reaffirms his faith in God. God created the heavens and the earth, God created the very water that is sweeping the man away, God is omnipotent, and God is a loving God. The man hopes, through faith in the power of God, that he will be saved from the river. As the man is recounting the faithfulness of God to His children, the man is suddenly pulled back under the surface of the water. Again, the man’s hope of being saved fall, as he continues to be swept away.
In a world that seems to grow darker every day, with the manifestation of sin, I hope for a world of peace, I hope that none will perish and that Hell will be empty, I hope that all Christians will enjoy their lives free from persecution, I hope that the wars being waged across the world will end, and I hope that pain and sorrow will only be words in the dictionary. While I watch world events occur that mock my hopes, I have complete faith that God’s perfect will be accomplished.
After defining “faith” (Hebrews 11:1), there is a brief summary of those who had faith in God and saw their hopes realized, such as Noah (who eventually saw the reason for building an ark), Sara (who saw the birth of a child), Abraham (who, after offering up Isaac, saw him live), Moses (who eventually saw the children of God released from bondage), and others. There are not enough books in the world to record the realization of hopes by the children of God. God is indeed a loving God, but is our faith based on the realization of our hopes?
After recounting some of the above realized hopes by God’s children, there is the following passage (Hebrews 11:36-37) that outlines that our hopes are not always realized, in fact, sometimes the children of God are killed:
“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourging, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword…. Being destitute, afflicted, tormented.”
When our hopes fall (fail to materialize), then does our faith also fall? John 3:16, provides the most powerful bond between our hopes and our faith:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The man, who was swept away in the river, is finally pulled under the water’s surface one last time and he drowns, with his hopes of being saved falling with him into the depths of the river. Before the man’s lifeless body can even begin the journey to the surface of the river, he has risen to Heaven; eternally warm in the loving presence of God.
Hebrews 12:2 instructs:
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
Whatever hopes (wants) that I may have in this world will only be temporarily. God has prepared for me a place in Heaven and, through the blood of Jesus Christ (the author and finisher of my faith in salvation), this hope will not only be fulfilled, but will last for eternity. Jesus Christ did not come to this earth to build earthly kingdoms and to fulfill our earthly hopes. No, He came to enable us to realize the hope of eternal joy and happiness.
Whatever raging river may seek to sweep me away in this world, I have the assurance of Heaven’s final reward. As Philippians 1:27-28 encourages:
“That ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries.”
To build my faith, I must structure my hopes (my “wants”) to align with the will of God. I hope that my faith will allow me to fulfill God’s will in my life, I hope that I achieve those things which God has brought me into this world to achieve, and I hope that my life will be a beacon to others; calling them to the goodness of God. While my faith is the substance of things hoped for, my hopes becomes the substance of my faith: Eternity.