“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NIV)
Faith and love - aren’t they the big duo, the most basic qualities in our Christian life? But in 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 there’s a threefold partnership, with hope sandwiched in between them, maybe looking to us a bit of a little flyweight surrounded by two heavyweights.
Perhaps we may not think that hope is such an important quality because of the way we use the word. We say: I hope it won’t rain tomorrow; I hope the train’s on time today; I hope we’ll get a holiday this year. Hope is linked in our minds and language with uncertainty. We talk about faint hope, desperate hope, and a little hope. It’s a kind of wish or a desire for something that we may not necessarily get. The New Testament writers use the word the same way when they are sharing their plans: Paul writes to the Romans that he hopes to see them on his journey and John tells his church he hopes to see them shortly (Romans 15:24; 3 John 1:14).
But when it is about our life with God and his plans for us – that’s a different matter. Unlike our human hope, it possesses certainty. Now hope is a confident looking forward to the glory of God and the glorious appearing of Jesus; now our hope sees our future of salvation, our redemption, the resurrection of our bodies and our eternal, righteous life with utter assurance.
And while we look forward to the future, hope is alive and active in us (1 Peter 1:3), but unlike some virus that’s made its home in us and does us harm, hope exerts a great beneficial power and influence over us in our everyday lives. Look at it one way and it’s an anchor securing us to Christ (Hebrews 6:18-20). Look at it another and it’s a helmet protecting our minds (I Thessalonians 5:8). Look again and it’s shouting encouragement at us, motivating our flagging spirits, and giving us strength to endure (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). Not only does it energise us but it can affect others around us - Paul prayed that we may overflow with hope (Romans 15:13). If we do, then may our families, friends, acquaintances and even our enemies get their feet wet in the puddle.
Reprinted with kind permission of daybyday.org.uk.