What Is the Difference between Hope and Faith?

What Is the Difference between Hope and Faith?

When my children were younger, I delighted in preparing their favorite meal. Though they had differing palates, whenever I promised to make macaroni and cheese, there was an eagerness that permeated the air. This delicacy wasn’t from the box, but each ingredient was assembled into a bubbly, delicious covered dish. They couldn’t wait to sit down for dinner.

Looking forward to their favorite meal was hope. Simultaneously, because my children trusted me, they believed that macaroni and cheese would be ready at dinner time--this was faith.

Hope, in its simplest form, is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. The Hebrew word for hope, tiqvah, means something we hold onto. The Greek word for faith is pistis, which connotes faithfulness, conviction, and commitment, a reliance on God. Based on the definitions alone, hope and faith are often intertwined; hope is the soil in which we exercise our faith.

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  • The Spark of Hope

    The Spark of Hope

    Remembering those moments with my children made me think back on my own life, when I joined the track team, an exercise in faith building. In high school, I discovered the world of track and field through a morning announcement. I decided to join the team, but it turned out, I was horrible at running. I had no discernible speed, and though I was pegged as a distance runner, I was very slow. But the discovery of running sparked a desire, a hope, to improve. Because of this desire, I determined that I would learn the mechanics of running.

    Initially, I ran around my parent’s basement because I was self-conscious and afraid, but that was getting me nowhere, fast. With a desire for improvement in my heart, I ventured outside and started running around the local park. I put in serious mileage with the hope of becoming a better runner. In addition to increasing my mileage, I worked out with other newcomers on the team by running hills. There was one particular hill which was known as Heartbreak Hill. This hill had a steep trajectory of over 800 meters with bumps and curves. The goal was always to reach the precipice while running, no matter how slow we were. We ran up Heartbreak Hill so many times that our hearts did indeed break, but in the process, we became stronger. My hope of improving was coming to fruition each time I conquered that hill. When school resumed in the fall, I made it on to the varsity team. My intense summer workouts had paid off and my hope was now a reality.

    This hope was not based on anything but a personal desire of mine to improve my skills after being inspired by the other runners I saw on the team. I wasn’t sure of my capabilities, but the bar was set so low, that I could only get better. I was, arguably, pathetic at this sport, but I had an internal drive that pushed me forward. All I had was a desire to improve and a belief in myself.

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  • Having Faith and Hope in God

    Having Faith and Hope in God

    When it comes to God, however, that hope needs to go one step further, out of the realm of self-reliance and into the realm of complete dependence. In Genesis 22, God told Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, and offer him as a burnt offering. Abraham obeyed, knowing that if God said it, even if it meant sacrificing his son, there would be something greater. When Isaac asked Abraham, his father, where the burnt offering was for the sacrifice, Abraham replied, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:8) The New Testament even mentions that because Isaac was the heir of God’s promises. Abraham believed that God could resurrect Isaac even if he had to sacrifice him. Resurrection was not previously documented in the Bible, so Abraham’s faith was not reliant on anything else but his relationship with God. Faith was knowing that God would provide, hope was the desire to be obedient to a faithful God. A hope like this was quite different than what I exhibited when I wanted to be a runner; this was a hope borne of a confidence in God. This is the hope we are all encouraged to have.

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  • A Different Quality of Hope

    A Different Quality of Hope

    As Christians, our hope has a different quality because of the resurrection of Christ--an impossible event that only happened with Christ.  Because of His crucifixion and resurrection, we have hope in him that won’t cause shame, that won’t steer us down the wrong track, which will exceed anything we can imagine or think. Without the resurrection, our faith is in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17) Hope in God creates a dependency and intimacy with God exhibited by our faith.

    Sometimes it feels as if all hope is gone. When I started running and saw how dismal my efforts were, I had no hope. I lacked skill, I lacked knowledge, and dare I say, I lacked the talent needed to be considered “good.” During the process of training, my hope wavered; I questioned if my efforts would make any sense and Heartbreak Hill nearly did me in. There have been several times when it seems my hope was pointless. I’ve lived long enough to have experienced dashed hopes, long enough to allow my hope to turn into hesitancy.

    In spite of disappointments, my hope remains in God – I can rely on His strength to increase my faith, for when I am weak, He is strong. Like Abraham, my faith is based on the confident expectation of God’s promises. With faith, the outcome is always up to Him. Hope in God does not disappoint; we may not get what we desire in the time we desire it, but as believers, we have the faith that He is with us in the situation and that He is working. “Hope is what helps us wait. Faith is what keeps us looking in the right direction.” (Liz Curtis Higgs) Faith in God recognizes that things can change, regardless of our limitations, for faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

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  • Our Faith in Christ Insulates Us

    Our Faith in Christ Insulates Us

    The things we hold on to can fall apart when they are not rooted in God’s desires for us. With God, we may end up holding on longer than we expected to, but we do not hold on in vain. God has promised that nothing can separate us from His unfailing love. This promise doesn’t exempt us from going through trying times, but it provides a hope that is deeper than our desires; it provides an eternal hope that comes from a creator who endlessly pursues us. We are not in this alone.

    Faith in Christ is not a guarantee that our hopes won’t be dashed, but faith in Christ insulates us so that if and when our hopes are dashed, we know there’s something greater, there’s more. We are not at the end of our rope. Instead, we can be joyful as we hope, regardless of our circumstances. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) When God is the source of hope, our faith is stronger.

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  • Faith and Hope Come from God

    Faith and Hope Come from God

    Faith is grounded in the reality of the past; hope is looking to the reality of the future. Without faith, there is no hope, and without hope, there is no true faith. Our trust in our Heavenly Father is demonstrable faith. Because we know His promises are sure, we have hope. God keeps his promises like He did to Abraham and I did to my children. With this knowledge and assurance, we can continue to trust in God, since without God, there is no lasting hope or faith. The interdependence of faith and hope helps us navigate the Christian life.

    Nylse is a Christian wife and a mother of four who loves life and inspiring others. She likes to have fun but is very clear on who she is and Whose she is. A prolific thinker, she blogs to encourage others from a Christian perspective at www.lifenotesencouragement.com. She can be found online on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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