FAITH first, obedience second, faith third… and so on. Faith is possible only through obedience. Obedience is possible only through faith. Faith and obedience are intrinsically interdependent.
For faith to operate we must have hope. But hope, by definition, is invisible. So faith, when it is really faith, hopes in a hope that is not seen. Otherwise it is not faith.
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
— Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
— Romans 8:24-25 (NRSV)
When life has thrown us a curve ball, and we are deeply in the middle of a challenging time, we must have faith, and it’s best to understand faith has no basis for visibility or viability.
Faith is a good friend to anyone in the depths of loss and lament. It’s a vital companion. It’s the only way our hearts can remain soft when there are so many temptations to harden our hearts.
Faith is a risk, in that we have no guarantee that we are destined for a good place. But God is good in that there is just enough of a sniff that we are on track in our faith.
Hope, on the other hand, is the vision we have — we travel with hope, hope fuelling our faith; and our vision, what we hope for, is our actual destination.
By faith we get through challenging seasons of lament in order to grow. By hope we have underwritten our faith. But hope is also the vision we have of the future.
Our hope fuels the vehicle, faith, which compels us to persevere until we realise the vision of our hope.
The key point I want to make is this: the littler our hope, the greater the faith we have. This is not a put-down. If anything it builds us up.
It should be a source for our encouragement that the harder the time we are having of it, the more solid and resilient is our faith — founded from a seriously cogent hope.
The littler our hope is the more legitimate our faith is. And the assurance of our faith ought to inspire us to confidence that God will bless our hope.
The more invisible our hope, the more inspiring is our faith.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.