I never really thought much about hope, until I had to define it for my kids.
Preferring that they memorize Scripture with at least some grasp on what it means, though, I had to explain the difference between faith and hope to them.
I seldom look up a word, making sense of it from its roots, its Biblical usages, and its context, and of what I know they know, what is relevant to them. Hope slithered away from me, though, since I never really gave it much thought until we did that memory work.
After thinking a while here’s what I taught them:
When we wake up on a frosty morning, we don’t worry that the house is cold, because we know Daddy will soon stir up the coals and make us a warm fire, isn’t that right?
That is hope. We don’t hope for something we see, but for something we do not see. Whatever we can see, we cannot hope for, because seeing would not be hoping.
Who hopes for a fire when one already is roaring in the fireplace?
But faith is what we have when we actually hear Daddy stirring the coals and smell a bit of smoke drifting through the house. We no longer have to hope because what we hear and what we smell tells us our hopes are on the way. We know the routine, we know Dad, and we know what our ears and noses are giving us evidence of — and we relax because we have all those assurances that the fire we hope for is in the process of happening. We can almost feel warmer, just in the knowing.
But sometimes he must take out ashes and the fire building happens later. We must stay cold and wait while he spreads the ash around outdoors and begins a new fire for us. Yet we know him and we know whatever is taking so long, he is working on what we need, though we are tucked far away in our rooms and the floors are still very cold. We are sure because we know; we know because we are sure.
The same with our heavenly Father.
We do not worry when things are not exactly going our way, because we know our Father will take care of us. That is our source of hope, and He is a good source. We have every reason to hope that we will be well taken care of, to have hope in Him that all is well, to take our needs to Him for His loving care. And He does not disappoint us.
But sometimes we can know, when we notice things lining up just right, when we sense that He is working, stirring the embers of our hopes; and we realize great faith in His constancy, in His power, and in His dedication to providing for us. We can almost feel it in our bones, hear it rattling toward us from the future, almost smell it — all is well.
We know Him and we have great assurance that He is working.
Sometimes it takes longer than we expected. Sometimes other things must come first. But we know Him, although we are here on earth and have not yet received. We just know His love for us is providing exactly what we need, and that is our faith.
Our faith is in Him, in what we know of Him, in what He is showing us, telling us. We cannot see all He is doing, perhaps, but it is not blind faith. It is faith built on a lifetime of knowing Him and listening to Him.
We are sure of what we hope for.
We just know.
And this faith like a little child’s is what He looks for.