We all can quote Hebrews 11:1, but I want to point out that hope is just as significant as faith in that verse. That's not to undermine the significance of faith by any means – everything starts with our believing in the trustworthiness of God's promises in His Word. But I think perhaps modern Christian society has downplayed the importance of hope. Now, look, wishful thinking is not the Biblical definition of hope. Folks out there "hoping" for a healing to take place are not in true faith. That can be the equivalent of saying, "I don't really believe God will answer my prayer, but I sure hope so anyway." So disappointment, despair, and depression set in because the prayer isn't answered.
The kind of hope I'm sharing is the kind found in Romans 8:24 – the kind that saves. The kind that brings rest (see Psalm 16:9). The kind that causes us to rejoice (see Romans 5:2). The kind that even resurrects the dead (see Acts 23:6). Taken in this light, Hebrews 11:1 means that faith brings the spiritual promises of God into natural reality if we keep hope alive.
The Greek word elpis is translated "hope" (Strong's #1680). It means to have an expectation, or to "welcome" something. To expect something that is certain. Hope means to anticipate something with pleasure and excitement. The cognate elpizo means to "actively wait for God's fulfillment about the faith He has inbirthed through the power of His love" (Strong's #1679). Faith, hope, and love abide – they dwell, persist, linger, maintain, remain; they keep on keeping on.
Paul talks about Abraham, the father of faith, in Romans 4, declaring he "contrary to hope, in hope believed." He didn't cast away his confidence (see Hebrews 10:35). When all hope was gone, he kept hoping on. This is talking about perseverance, tenacity, continuance. The staying power of hope. We can't let our hope fail just because we don't see a manifestation immediately.
Hope feeds faith. This is why we're told to hold fast the "confession of our hope without wavering" in Hebrews 10:23, and this is why Hebrews 6:12 puts "faith and patience" together. Just like Abraham who patiently endured, we likewise will obtain the promise (see Hebrews 6:15). In other words, how we arrogate the promises of God is by persisting in hope, even if hope is gone. Again, hope feeds faith. It's important!
Like Abraham in Romans 4:19, who did not "consider his own body," we need to have the grit and determination to keep our hope thriving, so that we don't discuss the "deadness" of our own circumstances. We need to be firmly persuaded and not shaken off from our hope!
Now, believe me, I'm not laying on some "works trip" here. I recognize that these principles – tears and hope – are galvanized by the Holy Spirit, just as with any other spiritual matter. But my point is, we need to cooperate with the Spirit, being led by Him in our times of intercession – the "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26). We need to work with Him in order to keep our hope in faith vibrant and active, upbeat and full of life, and then we will see the manifestation of God's love toward us.
Our God calls things that don't exist as if they did (see Romans 4:17) – He has full faith in Himself, and while it is vitally important to ask for His gift of faith concerning our circumstances, we also need to cultivate an overwhelming sense of hope in God's faithfulness. By speaking the fulfillment of these promises from God, our hope can feed our faith. (Photo via Pixabay)
Even when it seems that hope is lost, by nevertheless continuing to hope, we can receive the things we are hoping for according to God's wisdom and timing! If this sounds circular and cyclical, it is. I'm not saying it isn't a struggle – some of us feel pressed on all sides by the circumstances that face us daily. But, just as Proverbs 4:20-22 states, "My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh." Our circumstances don't make this promise any less valid – as long as we have tears of hope.
The importance of tears of hope cannot be overstated. It is this mentality – this way of life – that teaches us to wait for it. A word we all hate in the flesh. Wait. But waiting on the Lord means to wrap ourselves up in His ways, His Word, His thoughts on what is important to Him – to quiet our own raging minds and emotions – to hold steadfast in the hope of faith.
It's not sitting back, doing nothing but mope (moping is not hoping), and expect God to manifest His promises apart from any effort on our part. Waiting is not passive, it is active. In the flesh, no one likes this concept, because it makes us responsible for seeing the manifestation of promises – the day of visitation we need so desperately. But again, just because we don't like it, doesn't make it any less of a truth.
Keep your focus – your hope – on what God has promised by faith. "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12).
It is my desire "that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises... This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:11-20).
Keep hope alive!
James Maloney, President
Voice of the Dove Company International
James Maloney has been in full-time ministry over forty years as president of Voice of the Dove Company International.