A hope that leads to faith

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As believers, hope feeds our faith as sap feeds a tree. And as it does so, our growing faith confirms that we are rooted in the Lord and trusting Him fully (Colossians 2:6-7).

Without faith in God, our hope becomes wishful thinking at best. The world hangs on to that. People believe that they can change their destiny by positive thought, but their hope has no power beyond that which they themselves can accomplish. By contrast, the hope referred to in the Bible is not a wish for something to happen, it is a trust in God to act.

Yet many believers become disillusioned when God fails to fulfil their expectations within a given time. Some blame God for not acting; others despair because of their lack of faith. Yet we know that the Lord has promised to give us anything... if we ask according to His will (1 John 5:14). There’s the key. The wrong key, or no key, and the door stays locked. So how do we know whether or not we are asking according to the Lord’s will? The answer: we cannot be a hundred percent sure (e.g. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9), but we ask as a child asks his father—trusting, believing, hoping.

Hannah wanted a baby. She deeply longed for something that had been denied her for the better part of her life—to have a son of her own. Year after year she would go with her husband to the Temple, as was their custom. It made sense to her to pray in the Temple as, in her mind, that is where the Lord was most likely to hear her heartfelt plea. 

At this stage, her hope—her only hope—was in the God of heaven. Humanly speaking there was no hope. She made her way to the Temple (apparently alone) and whispered a desperate prayer. Up till now, she had received no promise from God and no indication of His plan and purpose for her life—nothing on which to base her faith. In fact, the Lord Himself had caused her to be barren (1 Samuel 1:5-6). Yet the hope within her had not died, and she trusted the God she knew.

After Eli the priest had confronted her and found out the reason she had come, he pronounced a blessing on her. As she went on her way, her anguish and grief turned to joy. She started eating again; her face reflected the new hope that welled up in her heart, and she worshipped the Lord. Her faith (belief in God) strengthened her hope—the hope that had fed her faith.

God honored her faith, and at the right time, He answered her prayer. Who knows how things would have turned out for Hannah, had she quietly resigned herself to her fate? How could she have known that as a result of her bold trust in God, she would give birth to a son, one of the greatest prophets of all time?

And she named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."

***

A woman made her way into the madness of the marketplace. She struggled to walk; yet, undeterred, she pushed her way through the jostling crowd. Finally, as her arm pried a gap through the flowing robes, her fingers touched the garment of the One who could heal her.

She had been to many doctors in the hope of a cure. Not one could help her and now, after many years, she had no more money to pay them. No money, no cure, no hope. It was the end of the road. Or was it?

A flicker of hope still burned in her heart. She’d heard about Jesus, and there were reports of many who had been healed.

This was her moment!

Jesus stopped. He turned around and asked, “Who touched me?” The disciples were confused. In the midst of the tightly packed crowd, how could Jesus tell that someone specific had touched Him?

The woman came forward and fell at Jesus’ feet. Trembling with fear, she told Him the whole truth.

“Daughter, your faith has healed you,” Jesus said. “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

***

Our hope for God to do something in our lives should lead us to action: perhaps making a point of meeting with God; desperately reaching out to Jesus; praying. That’s when hope becomes faith.

When the Lord leads you to a promise in His Word, and you know that it is His specific word to you, believe that He is able to do that which He promised. That is faith.

When the way forward is unclear and there is no definite promise to hold on to, believe that God is fulfilling His purpose for your life. That is trust.

Whatever happens, don’t give up! For both these women, many years passed before God intervened. God loves us too much to take shortcuts. Paul tells us that our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Don't give up half way!

If you lose hope, faith has no meaning. The Bible says that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews11:1). Spiritual apathy is comfortable, but it strangles the soul; hope is risky, but it honors God.

Never stop hoping. Never stop trusting God to do whatever you ask for! (John 14:13-14). 

"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.