Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless. – Gilbert K. Chesterton
I am told that the Russians have an interesting way of expressing their notorious fatalism. In the face of adversity they simply shrug and say, “Hope dies last” (Nadezhda umiraet posledney). In other words, they will hope for the best right up to the bitter end. I actually like that philosophy.
Then there is the view point of one Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900). His writings on truth, morality, and the meaning of existence have had a profound impact on the values of western culture. One of his more famous statements was, “God is dead.”
Nietzsche’s world view summarily rejected Christianity (and God in general) as meaningless in contemporary life. It therefore comes as no surprise to me that Nietzsche also said, “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of men.” Hopeless Nietzsche was indeed a much tormented man. He spent the last decade of his life in a state of mental insanity. Needless to say, I do not agree with his outlook on hope.
Do you remember the story of The Little Engine That Could? It begins with a train carrying toys and candy that cannot get up a mountain slope to deliver its cargo to the boys and girls in the valley. Many capable train engines passed by, all with the same excuse – “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.”
Eventually a very small locomotive stops to help. As the little engine starts pushing the other train up the mountain it begins to say, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” – and it does! In a way, hopeful people are like that little train engine. They look life square in the face and keep telling themselves, “I think I can, I think I can.”
When we feel hopeless, it is very difficult to find the way out of life’s challenging circumstances. Hopelessness often leads to a great sense of emptiness and even helplessness. Unrelenting disappointment can make us feel sick inside. On the other hand, when our hopes turn into reality we are full of joy. Here’s a quote from the ancient Book of Proverbs:
12 Hope that is put off makes the heart sick, but a desire that comes into being is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
Hope is like a circus high-wire. Our faith walks the tightrope of hope, bridging the gap between desires and reality. Without hope, our faith is insufficient and unproductive. Hopeful people are more likely to be faith-filled people. On the other hand, hopeless people often become faithless people.
If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps you moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream. – Martin Luther King, Jr
Our Faith is meant to reinforce the things we Hope for. Faith serves as the transitory evidence of what we cannot yet see. By our faith we recognize as real fact what is not thus far revealed to the physical senses. Faith enables our mind to grasp the supernatural. The Bible puts it this way:
1 Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].” (Hebrews 11:1 – Amplified Bible)
There is no shortage of sicknesses, troubles, and financial woes in our world today. Catastrophic distresses, exotic diseases and geopolitical concerns abound. As a result, people everywhere are losing their hope and even their ability to trust. Famed American author Henry David Thoreau once wrote,
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation*.”
Desperation is the opposite of hope. It is my opinion that our modern society suffers greatly as a result of silent desperation.
Hope is optimism based on confident expectation that one day things will change for the better, Hope enables us to find purpose and meaning in life. And when we add faith to our expectations (by putting our trust in God) our hopes gain substance (Hebrews 11:1).
When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God. – Charles A Allen
In ancient times, Israel’s legendary King David had an expectation that God would always keep His promises. That hope is what empowered him to trust God completely. Through many difficulties and adversities, David would often remind himself not to lose hope. Here are just a few of his prayers.
- “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39: 7 NIV)
- “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42: 11 NIV)
- “Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” (Psalm 25: 4, 5 NLT)
- “Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope.” (Psalm 119: 49 NLT)
Christians rest their hope upon the teachings of the Liberator Jesus. His mission while here on earth was to bring clarity to our knowledge about God and to implement the plan of restoration for mankind. Jesus told his followers, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in me as well.” (John 14:1) Getting to know the real Jesus and understanding why he visited this little water world, brings great hope into our lives and it keeps that hope alive.
No matter how miserable your existence may seem right now, there is ALWAYS hope. You may have a hard time believing this, but hope is there for you notwithstanding. “Hope is the anchor of your soul” (Hebrews 6:19)
What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God. – Rick Warren
What do you really need at this moment in time? Whatever it is, consider talking to the only wise God about it. Close your eyes and pour your heart out to the Divine Spirit – the creator of all things. No matter how fanciful, foolish or bizarre this may seem to you, just do it!
I would like to leave you with these two verses from the Bible’s Older Testament:
3 Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ (Jeremiah 33:3 – MSG)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29: 11 – NLT)
Here is my closing prayer for you, my friends,
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) And with a heart full of hope, may you also put your absolute trust in the God who is able to do whatever he wills whenever he wills it! Amen.
* Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656