Hope is a powerful force. The best example that I know of that truth is fishing. I can’t tell you how many times that I have been ready to pack up my pole and go home, but the smallest bite, the smallest bit of hope made me press on. One vivid memory was ice fishing with my son, Zach, a number of years ago. We had been out all morning with no success. We tried different holes, different bait, different depths and nothing. It was getting close to lunch and we were cold and hungry, two very good reasons to head for home, but then it happened… a tug on the pole. We wrestled in a perch the size of my little finger. It was nothing to post to Facebook, but it gave us something. Hope.
Suddenly, our fingers and toes were not as cold. Suddenly, our stomachs were not so desperate. Hope was alive. We fished on for hours. We caught nothing, but we fished on for hours. When hope rises that is what happens. You keep on going. You persevere. You endure. You finish.
Faith, hope and love are the triad of Christian virtues and behavior. The Bible often mentions them together. I love 1 Thessalonians 1:3 because it tells us the effect of each one.
“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Faith produces work.
This work is a deed or act that is the result of faith in Christ. James 2:14-26 tells us that faith that is not verified by good deeds or actions is no faith at all. Genuine faith in God produces something and that product is work. Our faith changes how we live or it is no faith.
Love prompts labor.
Love is not merely warm feelings for another. It is a decision to work for the good of someone else. The word used for labor here means an intense labor resulting in weariness. Caring for people can be hard work. Serving people can be hard work. It is love for people that believes it is worth it to sacrificially work for the good of others.
Hope inspires endurance.
Faith changes our lives. Love prompts us to wear ourselves out for the good of others. Hope is what keeps us going. Without hope, you don’t continue. You give up. You pack up your pole and go inside where it’s comfortable. When you give yourself to loving and serving people, you will get tired. Sometimes you will not see visible results. At times, no one will care. You will receive criticism and opposition. What will keep you going so that you finish strong? What will keep you from giving up? Hope will. How?
Hope will encourage you that what goes unnoticed by man is celebrated by God.
Hope will hold onto the reality that God is using your efforts in ways that you cannot see.
Hope will convince you that it is always worth it to love.
Hope will bring to mind that you will reap what you sow.
Hope will assure you that God rewards and not man.
Hope will persuade you that change is coming.
Hope will admonish you that you can do all things through Jesus Christ.
Hope will believe that God is good and has good plans for you.
Hope will remind you that this isn’t it. The Kingdom is coming.
One important note about biblical hope. It isn’t a wish or a dream. Biblical hope is confident assurance in what is coming. The only reason that we can have such assurance is because it is rooted in God himself. He holds our lives and uses them for his purpose. Where are you tempted to give up? Where is loving people too hard? Where are you exhausted and looking for a way out? Look to hope instead. Endurance is inspired by a conviction that faithfulness to God’s plan is better than any other option.
Let hope rise.
Look here for more on hope and let me know what makes hope rise in your life. Don’t forget to sign up to receive every post in your e-mail each week. It will help you walk with Jesus.