Have you ever been in a situation where God gave you faith and love, but you were losing any hope that things will change for the better as the days, months and years drag on with no sign of it happening (at least in the form you thought it would)?
Some time back I was pondering why Paul wrote, “These three shall remain, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). In Hebrews we read:
And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 RSVA)
I have no argument with the need for faith. And as for love, oh, what a wonderful gift that is! We all need to be loved and to love those around us. Love is a gift from God–we love Him because He first loved us. What a cruel and lonely world this would be without love. But what about hope? Paul says that we need hope, too! In fact he even says we are saved by hope…
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (Romans 8:24-25 KJVCNT)
Faith and love are great, but I had not thought much about our need for hope until I got in what seemed to be a hopeless situation. I had a degree of faith and love. I loved God and had faith that He loved me, but I had lost all hope that God would act on my behalf as time dragged on and things seemed so impossible. As I was praying about my lack of hope, I saw this huge hole in my heart. Yes, there was faith and love there around the edges, but there was no hope to fill in the hole. Hope was the one thing I lacked to have continuing peace and joy in the situation. I had no hope and I felt so hopeless!
How often do we glibly say, “Well, I sure hope so”? But is that real hope? Could it be that hope has substance? The longer I have pursued the Kingdom of Heaven, the more I see that all things eternal have substance. It is the temporary things that are mere vapors that cease to exist. As it says in Hebrews, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” so it is with love and hope. As I thought about hope I saw that hope was also a divine gift from God, not just a positive mental attitude. When I saw Him filling that hole in my heart with hope, His peace and joy started to flow into me again as well. I started to feel faith in a stronger way too. I had never prayed for hope before, but on seeing that even this is a necessary gift from God, I started praying for it each time a hopeless situation presented itself in my life.
As Paul wrote, “These three remain, faith, hope and love,” I believe that in this life we must have all three of them. They must remain as long as we are in this world. It takes all three; faith, hope and love, but as Paul pointed out “the greatest of these is love.” Why? Because once we are truly dwelling in heavenly places in Christ, faith and hope are no longer needed because everything we ever hoped for in faith has come to pass. All we will need to happily live in heavenly bliss with Jesus, our Father and our fellow saints is love. As Paul said, “what is seen is no longer hoped for” and heaven is the result of our faith. God’s great love shed abroad in our hearts is what makes heaven what it is, filled with peace and joy. Paul wrote,
Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. (Romans 5:2-5 RSVA)
“There is no end to hope, for there is no end to God.”– Taylor Caldwell, A Pillar of Iron
“Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.” ~ J. R. R. Tolkien