No matter how mixed up or even ruined this planet is at times, if the sun rises and sets, and earth is still spinning on its axis, then God is not done with this planet yet. No matter how terrible your own life may seem to be going and no matter how great your temptation to give up in despair might be, if you are still living and breathing on this planet, then God is not done with you yet. In the midst of all the struggle and perplexity of this life, there is a gift from God called HOPE.
In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the Apostle Paul tells us there are three great virtues or strengths that God imparts to us. Faith, Hope and Love. Many are the times we Christians have heard wonderful teachings about Faith and Love. Few are the times we’ve heard studies about Hope. Basically, HOPE is the strength an dinner knowing placed in our heart by the Holy Spirit that
our life IS going somewhere definite, somewhere good, and our journey on this earth is not some random process, but a journey directed by the hand of God bringing us to a good destination, whether or not we can see or understand that destination at the present moment. The Apostle Paul gives a specific description of that hope in Titus 2;13 where he calls the return of Jesus Christ “the blessed hope.” The appearance and return of Jesus Christ is when all questions will be answered and all problems will be solved. As we look at current events, we more and more see the words of Jesus’ own prophecies about His return being fulfilled and the time drawing closer.
In Jeremiah 29:11, we read: “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” Through the prophet Jeremiah, God promises His people that He has a plan, a future, and a hope for each of us. As we walk through this life, those of us who belong to Jesus Christ have a hope—the assurance from
God that this thing called life on earth is all going somewhere definite—we are not just subject to the random buffeting of accidental events and happenings, but the hand of Almighty God is upon each of our lives molding, fashioning, and guiding us to a destination—and that destination is the ultimate full union and sharing of God’s life with our being fashioned into the very image and likeness of His Son Jesus Christ for all eternity.
Hope tells us that we are headed toward this destination at every moment of our life in Christ whether we can clearly see or understand the present moment or not. Hope is this strength which is given to us by the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit Himself in us is God’s down payment or guarantee of our final destination (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us there are three great virtues or strengths that God gives us—Faith, Hope and Love. Although these three are listed and studied separately, they often work together, and like all the things of God, are meant to work together. Paul tells us rightfully that love, or AGAPE, is the greatest. Then faith is ability to reach into the invisible world of the spirit, lay hold of a promise of God, and bring it to pass back here in the visible material world (PISTIS). Hope (Greek: ELPIS) is the assurance that our life is being directed by God to His goal for us. Paul tells us that we can have faith without love. We can also have hope without love. But love, or AGAPE, is so far superior that if we have love, we will also always have faith and hope. 1 Corinthians 13:8 tells us that love believes all things, hopes all things, and never fails.
Nevertheless, hope is a platform when both love and faith can stop and rest during the difficult moments of life. Hope is a place where love and faith can stop and “catch their breath.” In Hebrews 6:18-20, the Apostle Paul calls hope the anchor of the soul. Just as an anchor holds a boat steady at its place in a harbor—hope holds us steady in our walk with God. The storm cannot shake loose a boat that is held by a good anchor. Hope is that “gut feeling” given to us by the Holy Spirit to keep us steady in the storms of life.
Hope works as a helper to both love and faith. Hope tells us to keep having faith even when it doesn’t seem worthwhile to believe anymore. Hope tells us to keep loving even when it doesn’t seem worth it to love anymore.
The prime example of a person of hope is Abraham. We normally think of Abraham as a man of great faith, and indeed he was. The Old Testament hada special title for him— “Abraham the Believer.” The New Testament calls him the Father of our faith. Abraham was also a man of great hope. He was a man who drew on hope when his faith had been stretched almost to the breaking point. He had been promised a son by God. The promise was made when Abraham was 75 years old and his wife Sarah was barren. For 25 years, he waited, and waited, and waited. So much time passed and nothing happened. Humanly speaking, the fulfillment of the promise was more than impossible. The word “impossible” was optimistic. But the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans, Chapter 4, that Abraham “hoped against hope.” He drew on hope when not only faith seemed foolish, but even hope seemed ridiculous.
Abraham would continually tell his wife Sarah, “Sarah, this is all going someplace good.” And no doubt, Sarah would half-humor him and probably say, “Yes, I know, Abe. It happens every day—a 100 year-old man and a barren 90 year-old woman have a son.” And Abraham would probably counter and say, “No, Sarah, that’s just the point. It doesn’t happen every day, but God promised ME it WOULD happen to us. That’s why I have faith and hope.” And Paul writes that Abraham, in hope, grew strong in faith and trusted God to perform His promised—and God DID, and Abraham had a son named Isaac.
The opposite of hope is despair. Despair is when we feel there is no reason to go on, no reason to keep living, no reason to believe that anything will ever change again for the better. Hell is the place of eternal despair. The Lord Jesus gave some very detailed descriptions of hell—a place of darkness, fire, and torment, a place of separation from God where lost souls eternally cry and scream out in agony. But the real hell of Hell is that there is no more hope, ever again. There is the realization of everlasting despair.
In fact, we see the beginning of that hell of despair even in this life in all those who do not have Jesus Christ as their Lord. The Apostle Paul describes such people in Ephesians 2:12—Paul states that if we are separated from Christ, we have NO hope in this world and we are not partakers of the promises of God. How true that is. In our own nation of so much prosperity, we see so many people who own so many possessions, but have such empty hearts—hearts that really have NO hope, for true hope can only come from peace with God through His ஒன்லி begotten Son Jesus Christ. Hope and fulfillment cannot come by owning “one more thing,” or one more better possession.
We also learn from this same scripture in Ephesians that we have two reasons FOR hope if we are in Christ:
1) The Word of God and His promises and covenants and the DURABILITY of those promises and covenants. The entire Word of God is a testimony to the faithfulness of Almighty God to His promises and covenants—He fulfills His promises time after time after time—so that we have a certain hope in them.
2) Jesus Christ and His durability and reliability. He is the only one that God Almighty raised from the dead and miracle power is released whenever His resurrection is proclaimed. On the basis of that reliability and durability, we have a certain hope that we will share in His glory (Colossians 1:27) and we are promised His return to earth to set up a righteous Kingdom of love, peace and holiness. Paul calls this the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). Just as His resurrection and enduring power remain, we know for certain He will return.
Finally, hope is what keeps us faithful during the battles of this life. The Lord Jesus said no person can serve two masters. The trials of life force us to choose at a given moment what is most important to us—God or some thing.
Hope causes us to choose God. One preacher once said that it’s hard to really embrace or hug someone with a lot of things in your hands. Hope causes us to say we’d rather empty our hands of all things, if necessary, so that we can hug God more tightly. But when we do let go of those things rather than lose God, we find that we are hugging the God who is owner of all things and can fill our hands with all the things we let go of, and more.
More important, He has filled our hearts with good things. Faith, Hope, and Love always work together. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul states love never fails. In Romans 5:5, he says hope is never disappointed.
So, if love never fails and hope is never disappointed, faith will always work.