Hoping or Believing?
Many times people say, “I hope God will heal me,” or “I hope I get some money for my bills,” or “I hope my spouse gets saved.” I understand the sentiment behind these words, but to be perfectly honest, these are not statements of faith. As a matter of fact, these phrases have nothing to do with believing God for anything, and they contradict faith because they carry no confidence in the accomplishment of what God promised. Truth be told, there is a world of difference between believing and hoping.
Hoping for something to happen does not involve faith. It is what people say when they wish for something. It is wishy-washy and not established on the Word of God or on any promise from Him. It is a vague, aimless desire for something. There is no spiritual substance to it. Faith, on the other hand, has substance. Faith involves believing that something promised in the Word of God has actually been provided to us.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)
Hope is not bad, but expressing hope without getting faith involved is not enough. My very wise husband once said, “Faith is the arrow and hope is the target.” Biblical hope is the promise, and faith is believing that we have that promise. We use our faith to aim for the promise- the hope. For example, the Word says that our households shall be saved.
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31 (NKJV)
So, since it is promised in the Word, it is a promise we can target with our faith; something we can believe for. In this example, household salvation (salvation of our loved ones) is the hope. We exercise our faith and choose to believe that our family members have been saved. And we keep believing it, and speaking words that support that belief, until we see it come to pass for us.
When it was beyond hope, he had faith in the hope that he would become the father of many nations, in keeping with the promise God spoke to him: That’s how many descendants you will have. Romans 4:18 (Common English Bible, CEB)
Abraham’s hope was that he would become a father. He believed that God’s promise of a child was true, using his faith to obtain that promise. He didn’t just hope for a son; he believed God for a son. And as he waited for it to manifest, he kept the hope alive by speaking what God had said. That is why God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means father of a multitude. Every time Abraham said his own name, he was saying what God said about him.
So, it is crucial that we not confuse hoping for something with actually believing for something. It will make our faith much more effective and reduce frustration. After all, we are walking by faith- not walking by wishing and hoping.