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Could hope be one of the most underrated virtues? Hope makes the list of God’s top three virtues along with love and faith (1 Corinthians 13:13).
The greatest virtue is love. But where would love be without faith or hope? Love would have nothing to deliver; it would be an empty promise–much like worldly love. Fortunately, love always hopes.
A believer can hope for something, but God-given faith makes it a reality in the heart. If you hope for a hamburger, faith makes it so real you can taste it before you ever take a bite.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Hope focuses on God’s amazing promises–specifically the ones that we can’t see come to fruition immediately. As Christians, we hope in God’s promise of eternal life. By faith, we possess eternal life and yet we continue to experience death and suffering for a time.
God is the source of everything good, but what else must be present to live with more hope? For you to thrive, hope’s recipe needs at least these three ingredients:
- An Attitude of Freedom
- An Attitude of Surrender
- An Attitude of Trust
Hope Requires An Attitude of Freedom
A slave with no chance of being free one day can’t begin to hope. Thankfully, you are no longer a slave. Christ has set you free.
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.Galatians 5:1 NLT
Freedom brings peace to hope. To fear is to live in the reality of a hopeless slave. You can’t be peaceful and fearful at the same time. As you recognize you are free, you should experience more peace. You are not a slave, so you can stop thinking like one.
In what ways are you still acting like a slave? Your cage door is open. Are you living as though you are trapped inside? Fear prevents many from leaving a cage with a wide-open door.
Hope Requires An Attitude of Surrender
Surrender acknowledges that God is the ultimate source of good. To have freedom without surrender is to live with the delusion that you are self-sufficient. Hoping in yourself alone doesn’t produce assurance–it’s wishful thinking at best and a fatal gamble at worst.
You might think that freedom and surrender are mutually exclusive, when in fact they support each other perfectly. Surrendering to God and His reality produces true freedom.
If you are not surrendering to God, then you are living in an alternate reality of idolatry. You might feel free initially, but eventually, you will realize you are living in a cage as a slave. An astronaut that leaves a spaceship (without a source of oxygen) for open space is free in one way. The astronaut will survive for a brief time, but this reckless choice leads to death not life.
In this case, the one who surrenders to the confines of the spaceship lives to roam the universe or return to Earth. You can be a slave to righteousness and remain free.
Hope Requires An Attitude of Trust
To be able to surrender to God, you must first trust Him. Trusting God allows you to surrender to Him; surrendering to God produces true freedom. With true freedom, you will experience a powerful, unwavering hope that nourishes your soul.
To hope you must trust God will keep His promises to you.
Trusting is difficult in an environment that is corrupt and decaying. It’s easy to slip into agreeing with hopelessness and distrust. It’s easy to mistrust God and fear. But none of it is mandatory.
Even though evil exists in our world and it betrays God and humanity, we have a choice to trust. When you are lost, this verse will guide you home–into God’s arms.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Our own understanding is limited and can be faulty. God is saying there is something more true about trusting in faith than trusting with evidence and proof. Even so-called facts can be faulty. How many people believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth before additional facts disproved it?
God’s understanding is never wrong. Trust God because He is your good parent. Look beyond your immediate environment and trust Him no matter what is happening around you.
As you go about your daily life making decisions, keep your spirit open to hearing God’s will. When you trust that He will direct you, you don’t have to hesitate to act. God is holding your hand. Don’t hold back all that God made you to be.
Love provides faith. Faith allows you to trust. Your trust leads to surrender and freedom. Then you’ll have real hope.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.