Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Power of Hope

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen -- Hebrews 11: 1
"Substance" and "evidence": solid stuff. We are used to thinking of faith as a sort of smoky spiritual thing, as if our faith is what allows us to have hope – to see the unseen. But this scripture suggests otherwise. Faith is not the cause, but the product of hope. Without that hope for things not seen, we can never know the gift of faith.

And what a powerful gift it is. Just look at this role call:

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: -- Hebrews 11: 17 – 32
There is great power in faith. It lets us move mountains but it does not exist in a vacuum. Like serenity, faith is a child of hope.

If we renounce despair, if we choose to live in hope, then God’s gift to us is faith: the power to do amazing, irrational, radical, miraculous things. This is more than just the sugary sweet “positive attitude” that so many exhort us to pretend we have. Hope is not a sunny disposition and a clench-jawed smile. Hope is a hunger for the invisible. It is living as if the things we cannot know are in fact true.

Our history, our experience may teach us that failure is inevitable. People will always disappoint, power will always corrupt, and ambition will always fall short. Life may teach us those hard lessons, but living in hope is living as if people can succeed, as if power can be used for good and goals can be reached. The letter to the Hebrews promises that a life lived in hope will have power – that substance and evidence of the unseen and unknowable Kingdom of God that we call faith.

Do not grieve your lack of faith. Rather choose to live in hope, knowing that faith will be added to you.



No comments:

Post a Comment