I think there are two types of hope. One is the hope that comes from knowing we have salvation and eternal life in Christ. The other is the hope we need to get through the struggles of daily life in the here-and-now.
Faith in Christ is the foundation. Without that, nothing else matters.
If faith is the foundation, can it be argued that hope is what compels us to act on our faith so that we produce good fruit?
Hope To Face Life’s Challenges
Eternity aside, we each have obstacles, problems and pains to deal with in this life.
We need hope to face these challenges and take the necessary actions to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.
Two images came to mind a few days ago when I began to think about hope: The ‘little engine that could’ and Luke Skywalker flying his X-wing fighter into the trench of the Death Star.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…
chugs the little engine as it struggles to pull a huge load over a mountain. In this fable, the big and powerful engines refused to accept the mission because they knew it would be hard and they might fail.
The little engine had both faith and hope that effort would yield success. Because of faith and hope, the little engine was willing to take action and try something hard.
Luke Skywalker feels trapped and hopeless when we first meet him in Star Wars: A New Hope. Luke dreams of joining the Rebellion, but he’s stuck on a farm on the planet Tatooine on the far outskirts of the Galaxy, despairing of his future.
One day, Luke discovers a cryptic hologram from a princess who pleads “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” This mystery leads Luke to an old hermit, Ben Kenobi, who tells Luke his father was once a Jedi Knight.
The headstrong, self-willed and impetuous Luke eventually joins the rebel forces as a pilot. It is Luke who has the final shot at firing the torpedo that will destroy the Death Star. Until that moment, Luke has always relied on his own strength and skills, rather than the Force described by Obi-Wan Kenobi that can empower the Jedi.
To rely on the Force means Luke has to give up control and that’s something he’s been unwilling to accept. In the final seconds of the mission, Luke lets go and trusts that the Force will guide him. Luke’s purpose at that time is fulfilled.
The Faith to Abide in the Vine
My natural inclination and mindset is such that I’ve always believed that if I just work hard enough I can climb any mountain—just like the Little Engine.
My natural inclination is to take control, trust in my own strength, and I have a drive to “do” rather than let go and be. More than a few times over the past few years, just like Luke Skywalker, I’ve been on the brink of despair over my inability to break through the walls of some invisible box that seems to be holding me back from fulfilling my purpose.
Despair literally means the absence or loss of hope.
At the most hopeless moments, through God’s grace and mercy, my strength has been renewed and hope restored by letting go and abiding in the vine that is Christ.
With hope, we know there’s a way through, a path forward. With hope, we see the possibility of a desired outcome. Hope provides the fuel we need to try again.
James tells us that faith without action is a dead faith. It can be hard for me to remember that acting in my own strength is not what produces fruit.
It’s only through Christ that we can do the things we’re designed and called to do. I often overlook that part of Philippians 4:13.
If we act in our own strength, we will falter. But if we hope in the Lord we will be renewed and strengthened. It’s only by letting go and abiding in Christ that we will bear fruit. I have to pray daily to let go.
Sheree Martin is a lawyer, entrepreneur and digital media consultant. She’s on a mission to help others Discover, Grow and Shine. Sheree is mom to multiple furry creatures and aunt to three awesome young adults. She loves spending time outdoors, especially at Shine Springs Farm, doing anything fitness related, and cooking real food for friends and family.