Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, June 12, 2021

Shabbat Shalom,

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sat 12 June-2021 2nd of Tamuz, 5781 Parashat Korach

Nu 18:21-32 1 Sa 11:14-12:22 1 Th 5:12-22

Distinguishing Between Faith and Hope by David Harwood

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and shalom in trusting, so you may overflow with hope in the power of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. (Romans 15:13 TLV).

I misunderstood biblical hope for decades. The following illustrates how I viewed hope, as if it meant wanting “something to happen and believing that it might.”

In 2001 one of my most dear friends and closest colleagues was dying. He was deeply loved and admired by those he led.

However, the congregation was bitterly divided. There was a lot of offense and a corresponding wounded defensiveness. Some, seeking to exercise faith for my friend’s healing, were accused of proud presumption. On the other hand, many of their accusers believed that they were being unfairly held responsible (because of a supposed lack of faith) for my friend’s prolonged illness.

On the weekend before my friend’s death I was asked to speak into this situation. I took my cue from 1 Corinthians 13:13.

But now these three remain— faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 TLV)

I called the community to a unity made possible through love. I asked those who sought to exercise faith for healing to love those who did not have faith for their pastor’s recovery. I exhorted them to accept their brethren as they were. I exhorted those who did not believe my friend was going to be healed to love those who believed he would be and to hope their prayers were answered. After all, they wanted him to be healed, but were sorrowfully convinced that he would not be, yet they could still “hope”. It seemed to be an effective message in the short term.

I think I may have been right in my pastoral approach. However, my understanding was wrong. I didn’t understand biblical hope. 

What about now? Perhaps I understand a bit better, today. 

A Working Relationship

There is both a distinction and a synergy between faith and hope. They work together so closely that at times it is difficult to distinguish them. To strengthen our understanding of hope we’re going to try to identify their differences and clarify what the Ruach ha-Kodesh is seeking to convey through the Scriptures.

Let’s clear up some elementary and widespread confusion. 

Now hear this: Hope is not eternal. Hope is a temporal virtue.

I remember being taught that faith, hope, and love are eternal virtues. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 they appear to be contrasted with that which is going to fade away (prophecies, tongues, knowledge). However, Paul is not putting them forward as eternal virtues. In fact, he taught against that in Romans.

For in hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:24-25 TLV)

Hope is done when the answer has come. Or, to work with 1 Corinthian 13:10, when the perfect has come, hope is done.

but when that which is perfect has come, then that which is partial will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:10 TLV)

You don’t anticipate getting what you already possess. Hope has an end point. Hope is done when what you hoped for has come.

Paul was teaching that in this life we need these virtues to overcome the cosmos, our carnal inclinations and the spiritual malevolencies who are perverting and taking advantage of human cultures and our fallen natures.

But now these three remain— faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 TLV)

We overcome in this life through faith, hope, and love. They abide right now. Faith and love are not enough for the believer to live in a way that experiences, reflects, and releases the powers of the age to come. We do need to stress growth in faith and love. We also need to focus on developing a vigorous hope.

In our concentrating on growing our faith we find that maintaining a healthy faith is challenging. Loving God and loving others is also challenging. On the other hand, hope seems to require no effort or cultivation because it is devalued and misunderstood. Hope is glossed over because it does not appear to have the same value as faith and love and also because we take it for granted. Hope does not seem crucial to our spiritual-social development. But it is.

In our last meditation I mentioned the definition of hope given in The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. It is a great definition of hope as the word is colloquially used in our culture. 

“… to want something to happen or be true and to believe that it is possible or likely”

Because this definition is how we speak of hope in our normal conversation, at different times I may hyphenate hope with words like anticipation, or expectation. It will look like this: hope-anticipation, or hope-expectation. The reason for this is because even when we know the biblical understanding of hope we tend to lapse into how we use hope in our everyday speech.

Our next meditation is going to concentrate on this verse:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of realities not seen. Hebrews 11:1 TLV)

I think it’s going to be really helpful. Meanwhile, I encourage you to ask the Adonai for wisdom in understanding biblical hope. In addition, sow the increase of hope-anticipation into the lives of others through praying for them. 

Paul blessed the unified Jewish and Gentile disciples of the Messiah with this benediction: 

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and shalom in trusting, so you may overflow with hope in the power of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. (Romans 15:13 TLV).

Use that verse as a template. Please pray along the lines of Romans 15:13 for yourself and those you love. (Pray for me, too.) As you do, you are sowing what will be a harvest of hope in your own life.

Let’s pray with purpose:

God of hope, fill us up with all joy, with all peace, as we believe in You, so we will abound in confident expectation by the power of Your Ruach ha-Kodesh. 

Fill us up with all joy. Fill us up with all peace. Fill us up with confident expectation.

I ask this in the name of Yeshua the Messiah.

The increase of hope-anticipation is so important in these times which test our hearts. With the strengthening of our hope we will overcome with flying colors

I wrote a song from Romans 15:13. I encourage you to listen to it. You can access it here: