The Bare Soul - June 3, 2012
The Power of Hope

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

A casual reading of the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews tells us the importance of faith. However, faith would not be possible without hope. If we did not hope for something God promised was possible, we could not cling to the belief that God was going to do what He states. If faith is the assurance of things hoped for as Hebrews 11:1 states, then we understand how hope is the underpinning of faith, allowing our trust to remain stalwart in troubling times. Allow me to illustrate by the following examples.

Hope is often dictated by our experience. We may say, "My, I hope it doesn't rain today!" A statement such as this may be precluded by the appearance of angry storm clouds gathering. Whether we choose to believe it will or it won't is often based on our observation. Possibly a better example is air travel. We may believe in the law of aerodynamics. We may even trust so wholeheartedly that we decide to put it to the test by flying from Chicago to Los Angeles. However, where and when did this trust first occur? Before we actually believe something to be true, we either have a sense of hope or hopelessness in its regard. If the airlines were continually crashing over the Rocky Mountains in their attempt to reach Los Angeles, one might conclude that it was a hopeless endeavor to attempt this journey. If there was a 50/50 chance of making it to the west coast, then hopelessness would likely be the result of ever reaching the City of the Angels by air. However, if there had not been an airplane crash in more than 20 years on this route, and 20 flights flew this route daily, then a person would have every right to feel hopeful they would arrive in Los Angeles. Their hope had now become faith by the assurance of arriving at their destination.

Romans 5:5 tells us how hope does not disappoint. It is important to understand in context the reason for Paul's declarative statement. It is impossible to suffer disappointment if we are first grounded in the love of God. Unlike the aforementioned examples, hope does not necessarily need to be dictated by experience. Whether we experience God's love which is poured out within our heart is up to the believer. However, it does not belie the fact that the love of God has been poured out in the heart of a child of God as it states in this verse. That is where faith works in concert with hope. We hope because God's word tells us our hearts are filled with love and that hope does not disappoint. Whether we believe it is superfluous. It is a fact. However, when we do believe in faith, it creates a stronger bond of unity between faith, hope, and love. Hope then becomes assured through the faith of the believer and then we see as God sees.

Abraham is a good example of someone who hoped despite his experience. We know from Romans 4:18, Paul tells us that Abraham juxtaposed the hope of his experience, an aged person incapable of producing children, with the hope of God which was guaranteed not to disappoint. Through this hope, the ancient patriarch was able to believe God for His promise of Isaac, therefore resulting in faith leading to righteousness (Romans 4:20-22). He did not waver in unbelief because he set His heart and mind to remain hopeful regarding God's promise.

While Abraham is certainly a worthy example, we might shake our heads with skepticism regarding our own situations that may seem hopeless. For instance, why hasn't God saved those family members that we have prayed for years? It may seem hopeless to us as we see sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, and others continuing on the path to perdition they have walked without any seeming conviction to do otherwise. However, whom or what shall we believe? Shall we succumb to hopelessness because that is our past experience? Or, shall we cling to God's promise that He will save us along with our whole household? (Acts 16:31) Experience should not dictate our hope, beloved, which should therefore not influence our faith. Just because experience may command my hope in natural things, such as the weather or air travel, there is no reason why it should with spiritual matters. The word of God supersedes all hopelessness regarding a child of the King and instead gives us great hope in all of His promises. As we understand how His love and faith are tied inextricably to His hope within us, to that degree will we be at peace, knowing Christ is enthroned in every outcome of our lives.

Heavenly Father, may You open the eyes of our hearts to see how Your hope will never disappoint. It is impossible for it to ever do so, because it is grounded in Your love. May our faith grow and may we draw nearer to You in our experience as we live out this important truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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