May 20, 2012

Sunday Edition: Faith, Hope, and Charity

I've already written a little bit about this, particularly about HOPE. Then a few weeks ago at church we had a lesson all about hope. I said a few things that were straight from that post... but I also realized a few things I hadn't ever quite figured out before. So you can read that link first, if you want, to know where I'm coming from here... or you can just plunge ahead... or even click off my blog. LOL.
It was while we were talking in church about faith and charity that I realized something new about hope. I've always known that faith means that you believe in God, and you believe He can do what He says. And charity is about having love for others. But hope is more difficult to define. I've always just thought of it as the ability to keep going, that forward thrust and soft resilience to push through difficulties.The proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel." But then someone commented that real hope is based in a knowledge of who you are as a child of God, who you are in relation to God.
 "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." -Romans 8:16-17
And when I heard that, something clicked into place for me. Faith is toward God... belief in Him, believing Him, trusting Him. Charity is toward our "fellow men" ... loving them, helping them, forgiving them. And Hope... Hope is toward ourselves. Believing, not just that God "can" do it, but that he "will" do it... FOR YOU.  Hope is toward yourself... loving yourself, believing that your best is good enough, forgiving yourself when you fall, and holding onto the understanding that God will work miracles in YOUR behalf. That all the promises He has given, that they apply to YOU.
That YOU are precious to HIM.
Even when things are hard. Even when things go wrong. Because "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.... What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" -Romans 8:28, 31
Faith, Hope, and Charity are commonly seen together. They strengthen and build each other, and it is difficult to have one without the other two. All three are about relationships... your relationships with God, with yourself, and with others. I think that we, or perhaps just I, tend to focus outward. Charity and Faith are focused on others, they are outward. But we also have need to clean the "inner vessel."

I guess that's how I feel about Hope. I put a much higher priority on Faith and Charity... my relationships with God and with other people... than I do on Hope. I just figure that if I do my best, then Hope will magically appear one day. But if I neglect hope, then hope will neglect me. Most of the time, my missing ingredient is Hope.
I'm still struggling a bit to "define" Hope. It is definitely about your relationship with yourself... but it is also about God's relationship with you. Perhaps Faith is how you feel about God, and Hope is how He feels about you... or how you think He feels about you???
And for me, I think that Hope centers a lot on Grace. Accepting His Grace and Mercy. Allowing Him to take my burdens. Believing in Him (faith), and doing good works (charity), and then feeling a quiet confidence that my best... while far from perfect... will be perfected in His perfection... and my best will somehow be enough. That's hope. That's grace... Believing that I, not just anyone and everyone, but I...
 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." -Philippians 4:13