“Optimism is a wish without warrant; Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself. Optimism reflects ignorance as to whether good things will ever actually come. Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every moment beyond it, the believer can say with truth, based on God’s commitment, that the best is yet to come.” – J. I. Packer.
Faith and hope — we need them both. But what exactly is the difference between them? Many Christians ask about faith—how to have it, grow it, maintain it—but not many ask about hope. It is easy to get the two mixed up.
Faith is confidence or trust in something or someone not based on proof (believing in things unseen). Hope is an optimistic attitude based on expectation or desire. So what is the difference? Faith says whatever you are hoping for is here now. Hope says there is a chance of it happening sometime in the future.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.“ 1 Peter 1:21 says, “Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.”
Micah was a prophet and author of the Book of Micah in the Old Testament. The book of Micah paints a picture of a just yet merciful God. Like a shepherd, God will rebuild Jerusalem, defeat evil forever, and send a messianic King to rule over the people and bless all the nations. But at that moment in time, things were not going well. God’s people were surrounded by enemies that were asking, “So where is the LORD— that God of yours?” Even though Micah was filled with “misery” (Micah 7:1) and surrounded by people who had rejected his call to return to the Lord, he firmly put his hope in God. He did not look at the circumstances but focused on the Lord’s faithfulness. Micah knew that God was with him no matter how difficult his circumstances were. Micah refused to be discouraged: “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (7:7 NIV).
We may go through threatening situations that can cause uncertainty, anxiety, doubt, or fear. But if we depend on God, we can know He is the source of hope and rejoice in Him and the hope He promises us. If we have hope, we can be filled with joy and peace, no matter what happens.
Today, remind yourself to rejoice in the hope God has given you. Place your hope in the living God and His eternal power to save and make everything right in His time, in His way.
- What does a hope-filled life look like?
- Through Christ, we have hope. How can that be evident in your life this week?