Monday, November 30, 2009

Against Hope, with Hope He Believed

Against hope, with hope he believed. (Romans 4:18 HCSB)
Abraham received a promise from God. Not only that he would have a son, but also that he would father a nation that would bless all the families and nations of the world. By the world’s thinking, there was no reason to believe that this could ever be so. After all, Abraham was an old man and Sarah was well beyond child-bearing years. No matter. God had spoken and that was enough to settle it in his heart.

So, against hope, with hope Abraham believed. The Greek word for “hope” does not speak of what is tentative, as we often think of it today, but of what is sure and certain. It is a positive expectation, a joyful anticipation. That is what Abraham had.

Understand, though, that hope was not the object of Abraham’s faith. For some people who believe in the maybe-so-maybe-not variety of hope, hope seems to operate as a kind of faith all by itself. “Oh, there is always hope,” they say. No, hope is not the object of faith. Rather, faith is the basis for hope. The author of Hebrews says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

The Greek word for “substance” speaks of the underlying reality of a thing. It was sometimes used to refer to the title deed for a piece of property. If you possessed the title deed for a piece of land, you possessed that land itself. The title was the underlying reality of ownership for the property. In the same way, faith is the underlying reality of things hoped for. That is, it is the basis for having a positive expectation about a thing.

Understand also that faith is not the object of itself. It is not enough to say, “Have faith,” as if the desire to believe a certain thing is sufficient reason to expect to see that thing. No, faith must have a basis. Elsewhere in Romans, Paul says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Indeed, faith is about believing what God has promised. When God speaks a word, that is sufficient reason for believing whatever God has said.

That’s how it was with Abraham. God made a promise; Abraham believed it. Even though all the circumstances in the world appeared to be against it ever coming true, Abraham received the word of promise and had faith that it would come to pass. Against hope, with hope he believed. The joyful anticipation of hope came by faith, and faith came by the Word of God.

It does not matter what in the world is going on in your life right now. It does not matter how you feel or what others may think. God has spoken a promise about it. Find that promise in His Word and let it fill your heart with faith. Then you will have a solid basis and a joyful reason for expecting a positive outcome.