Okay, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard to keep our hope “on.” I’m only as hope-filled for as long as it takes for the next obstacle in my path to come along and shatter my fragile expectations. Holding onto hope can be slippery. The purpose of hope is to connect us to a faith that cannot be shaken. Faith is substantive; it is the ability to live in what is not visible as though it was already manifest around us. Hope is the bridge that moves us into faith, a faith that is meant to be unshakable.
One summer I rafted down the American River with friends in a four person raft. I should have been more concerned when the people in the 8 person rafts were applauding and cheering for us, as we floated by. I thought they were just being friendly, by cheering us on. Silly me. What I did not know as someone unaccustomed to white water rafting, was that our smaller and shorter dingy was more prone to being tossed around through the rapids, which is exactly what happened.
By the time I was tossed out of the front of the raft into the rapids, I was the last one to be flung into the water. I only realized what was happening right about the moment I plunged under. It left me without the opportunity to catch my breath before being immersed in the cold moving river. I knew I would be able to breathe again once I surfaced, and as I felt my body being bobbed toward the surface I grew hopeful. What I did not expect was to be pulled back under again before I ever broke through the surface.
This is how some of us feel trying to hold onto hope in times of difficulty. We’re OK when we are first tossed around. We expect things to get better. Even if we didn’t see the challenge coming, we assume we will surface again and be OK, whenever we are hit by unexpected waves. We do not expect to be pulled back under before we can catch our breath. Hope is the bridge to faith. Faith is what we need to breath under water.
“Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].” – Hebrews 11:1 (Amplified Bible)
We need hope in our lives. Hope is the ability to “see” what is right, good, or ahead of us. But, faith is what it takes to make our hope a reality in the present. Even when those circumstances are still distant, faith is life and breath to our heart in moments of being under water.
“Abraham believed God…” This meant that despite all evidence to the contrary, Abraham believed that God was good for all that He’d promised. Abraham didn’t have to see it in the present moment to live in the peaceful assurance that God was going to do good.
Hope bridges the gap. It helps us to move toward a life of faith – the life we are really supposed to live. Faith is the assurance that God is always going to do good despite how today looks. It is an unshakable trust in God. God is worthy of that trust.
Going back to the summer rafting trip: I bobbed to the surface gasping for breath, just in time for my friends to yell at me to scramble back into the dingy in time to hit another rapid. Life can be like that. Have faith to do more than just survive. Ask for enough faith to enjoy the wild ride!