In part 1 of this mini-series we talked about faith. If you missed that session you can find it here:
I closed Faith & Hope Pt. 1 by saying ” If it is true that every man has faith living inside of him (like everyone has love living inside of him), then it is impossible to be truly faithless. Being unable to use our faith is not really a faith problem, then. It is a hope problem.”
So in this post it falls to me to define for us the word “hope”, because fixing a problem (if we have one) always begins with defining what it is. Don’t you agree?
In part one I stated that faith (the Greek word pistis) is always used as a noun. Unlike faith, hope can be used as both a noun and a verb. We can hope for things to happen (verb form)…. OR….We can have a hope (noun form).
The verb form of hope is found in verses like Romans 8:25 “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Here the verb, hope, is the word “elpizo” which means “to trust in”. When we put our faith in someone or something then we are hoping in it. Hold on!I am about to turn the lights on for someone.
We now know about the verb form of hope, but what about the noun form of hope? What is A HOPE?
The Greek noun translated as hope in the New Testament is the word “Elpis”- the object one applies faith to.
But the definitions of hope that really help here are from the Hebrew. There are several words translated as hope in the Old Testament but the two that I find most helpful are the words “tiqvah” and “betach”
a tiqvah is a cord and my betach is my security or my protection. Picture yourself repelling from a high cliff with nothing between you and a three hundred foot drop but the rope tied around your waist. The rope is your hope. It is your cord (tiqvah) and your security or protection (betach).
Now here is where the issue with faith comes in. You see, I can have all kinds of faith living inside of me but if I am expected to repel down a three hundred foot cliff using a seventy five year old rope that is full of dry rot I am going to have a very hard time using my faith to actually get myself to go over the edge. My problem is not with the level of my faith it is with the trustworthiness of the thing I am being asked to trust (my hope).
Now let’s put that into relationship terms. Many of us put our faith in people who were too weak to hold us up. We got dropped and smashed on the rocks of life. We made vows we would never trust anyone again. We don’t have a faith problem. We still have all kinds of faith living inside of us. We just don’t think there is anyone out there we can put our faith in. We see no hope…no tiqvah…no betach we can attach our faith to.
This is what Paul was talking about when he wrote, “11 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. … In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.” Ephesians 2:11,12 NLT
We cannot truly walk by faith until we meet someone who is strong enough to keep us from smashing on the rocks beneath the cliff called life. Jesus Christ is the only true hope of the world and until we make him our hope we succeed at nothing other than causing more injury to our faith.