Sleep on This: Hope – faith in the future tense (April 22)
Good evening, friend.
Our Gig Harbor home of 28 years, the one in which we raised our children, was a split-level house. When you walked in the front door, there were five steps facing you that led up to a large, open area. One of my fondest memories of that place is coming home from work, opening the front door and watching as Rachel would LAUNCH herself from the top step into my arms, crying “Daddy!!!” as she flew fearlessly through the air. (For those of you who remember the Pink Panther movies, it was like Cato attacking Inspector Clouseau without warning.)
Rachel did it so often, you’d have thought I’d be ready every time I walked in. But my mind would be elsewhere when, bam, suddenly a head full of curly tawny hair was flying towards me. More than once, I barely got my briefcase out of my hands in time to catch my oh-so-trusting girl. And since the entry was covered with granite squares, a miss on my part would have been costly—and memorable.
Now, why was Rachel so confident to heave herself out into space like that? Because, each previous time, I caught her. Every time. I suppose if I’d missed even once, it might have changed her calculations. But I never did.
This is a sweet illustration of the difference between Biblical “faith” and “hope.” We know they are different because Paul said so in one of his most famous excerpts, I Corinthians 13:13. “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (NLT)
Faith is a combination of conviction and trust. Faith is not just intellectual assent; real faith trusts. In a spiritual sense, we put our faith in God…our complete trust in what we believe about him…because of his faithfulness in the past. We see the ways in which God has revealed himself to us, we see the depth of his love shown to us in Jesus, we see his bounty poured out upon us, we see the ways in which he has answered our prayers and provided for us in the past—and we trust him. We have faith in him.
“Hope,” as John Piper puts it so well, “is faith in the future tense.” Hope is the confident assurance in God’s provision for us tomorrow because of his faithfulness yesterday.
Back to my flying daughter. When Rachel stood at the top of those stairs every night waiting to throw herself into my arms, she hoped—in the biblical sense—that I would catch her one more time. And that hope was based upon her faith in my past performance; I always had.
Faith and hope are inextricably linked. We have faith today because Jesus has always been faithful. We have hope for our future because we believe he will never change.
Lord, as I lay me down to sleep, please bring to mind all the ways you have been faithful to me. Please remind me, once again, why I trust you—why I have faith in you. And then, will you please project that faith forward so that I might live in absolute hope, in the assurance that my faithful God from the past will be waiting for me in my future. Amen.