I think it’s fairly safe to say that how we get from hope to faith pretty much summarizes our spiritual journey. We hope there is a God and we hope He sent His Son to redeem us and we hope that following the example and teachings of that Son we’ll be united with God forever. We hope all these things. We hope they are true. But do we believe them?
There are many references in the gospels to Your high regard for faith, but not so much for hope. Hope was what the Jews nurtured for a Messiah who fit their own descriptions; but they could not put faith in one that didn’t. In some ways we’re no different.
Hope is important, but it’s easy. Our hope steers our faith; therefore that into which we place our hope determines what we believe. But it is still possible to have a lot of hope and not much faith. In wondering about myself I sometimesconsider whether I don’t regard faith as hope in disguise. I say I believe in Your love and Your mercy and that they will cover and forgive a multitude of my faults; but isn’t this possibly more hope than faith? It seems to me that there is no doubt in true faith, but in hope there is doubt. Hope is what we have when we petition for something in prayer. I hope that by praying for a sick friend he/she will get better. But do I believe that whether that person gets well or not my prayers are still of consequence?
Kierkegaard has said that “...infinite resignation is the last stage before faith.” This kind of resignation stems from a clear understanding of our relationship with God. To be able to willingly and completely assign all things into God’s hands embracing His love and concern for us is faith – not hope! Genuine faith does not come easily. It’s not just a matter of saying “I believe.”
We all want others to believe in us, especially those closest to us; and they may say to us, “I believe in you.” But the fact is that it’s more like hope. Faith in one another is easily undermined by one small action or word that gives doubt to that faith. Unfortunately we bring this human flaw to our faith in God; and so we hope because it’s easier than the total resignation Kierkegaard mentions even though that is what is truly necessary.