By Jeremy Blum
In the first part of this blog series, “Reason for Hope”, I talked about why, no matter the circumstance, we can have hope. Now in the last two parts of this series I would like to share why we should have hope. My hope in writing this is that you’ll be inspired to intentionally wage mental warfare to “take captive every thought” (2 Cor. 10:5) and see life through the lens of hope. In this article, we’ll see that hope is powerful, and here are three key points that really illustrate the power of hope.
- Hope Turns the Tide
Allow me to give you a couple examples. Let’s start with my favourite post-Biblical historical character, Sir Winston Churchill. It’s the Battle of Britain, still relatively early in World War 2. The countries of Western Europe (minus neutral Switzerland) have already fallen like bowling pins before the seemingly unstoppable Nazis. Now they have turned their gaze on Great Britain, the last to stand in their way, and are attempting to gain air superiority and bomb Britain into submission, while planning an eventual intended invasion. Everything appeared hopeless, and it would have been easy to surrender or for the nation’s spirit to be broken. But as the Royal Air Force battled the German Luftwaffe (Air Force), and the people were trying to do life in the midst of bombings, there was Winston Churchill inspiring people to not give up, with “speeches… among the most powerful ever given in the English language.” The hope the speeches and the man gave had a powerful impact, and “Few failed to recognize Churchill’s part in Britain’s survival and victory.”
Here’s another example from the story of Gideon (Judges 6-8). In Judges 6:12 we read “When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”” One problem: Gideon doubted that he was a mighty warrior, he doubted that the Lord was with him and he even doubted his own eyes and ears that the angel of the Lord appeared to him! Why? I submit to you that it was because Gideon was seeing through the lens of hopelessness. For seven years all of Israel had been hiding as numerous invading armies took away everything including their food supply. And by the way, his brothers also had been killed. However, the Lord gives evidence that the appearance was real, and hope began to enter Gideon’s heart. The Lord, the “hope of Israel” (Jer. 17:13), had shown up! Gideon begins to obey God, but it’s still a process. At each step of the way God gives Gideon signs so that he can have faith and hope until Gideon does indeed deliver the nation from the oppressive invaders.
- Hope Gives Vision
My definition of hope would be “vision of future good”. This is powerful because our vision guides our lives. If our vision is not of future good, we’re being guided in the wrong direction. The right direction is God’s direction, and hope stands in agreement with God because He is “The God of hope” (Rom. 15:13).
One of the guiding, life-verses I have had since I was a child is Jeremiah 29:11. It says “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This has helped shape my life. I remember when I was in University I was having a conversation with a classmate about how our courses had been going, and how well we felt we needed to do in our remaining semesters. I still remember him saying “I wish I had your confidence.” This surprised me, because one of my struggles is with self-doubt. However, I’m a person of hope, so even self-doubt in the moment doesn’t shake my expectation of good for the future. It seems that this came across to my classmate. Hope guides how I plan, but also how I handle situations and how I speak.
- Hope is the Pre-requisite for Faith
Hebrews 11:1 in the NIV says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” If hope is vision of future good, faith is confidence that the vision will be realized. Moving from hope to faith is going from maybe to will be. Furthermore, the NKJV calls faith “the substance of things hoped for”. The confidence of faith makes hope substantial, real as opposed to theoretical. This is first in our hearts, but here’s the power of faith– if the thing hoped for is well-founded in God, faith accesses the reality of heaven and brings that hope into reality on earth. Matthew 11:12 says “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.” The “Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32), but James 1:6-7 tells us “the one who doubts… should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” So then, with a “violent”, confident faith we get to “raid” the Kingdom. And what does that look like? “On earth as it is in heaven.”! (Matt. 6:10)
My prayer for you is that “by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13), “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you” (Eph. 1:16-20), and that hope entering your heart would serve as a turning point for you, and in turn for others whom you will affect, and that you would continue to be guided by God’s hope-filled vision for your life, which includes you having a mighty impact through you partnering with God in faith, in Jesus’s name!