We admire biblical figures of firm faith. Their stories are among our favorite passages in the Bible.
Recalling their faith, we wish to be like them, reminding ourselves we need faith only the size of “a grain of mustard seed.” Luke 17:6
Faith is mentioned 338 times in the Bible, perhaps the best known being: “For by grace are ye saved through faith.” Ephesians 2:8
There is even a chapter known as The Hall of Faith: Hebrews 11.
There is another word in this chapter’s opening verse to which we perhaps give too little attention.
The word hope.
“Now faith,” reads Hebrews 11: 1, “is the substance of things hoped for…”
Hope is mentioned in the Bible 123 times by everyone from Ruth to Esther to Ezra and Job, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Luke, and the apostle Paul.
Hope is “the feeling that what is wanted can be had.”
And hope is a perfectly spiritual emotion to have.
Psalm 147:11 The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
A Bible figure who illustrates what it means to “hope” is Isaac.
He is one of the “patriarchs” and perhaps not as looming a figure as his father Abraham and his son Jacob.
Nevertheless, he had positive traits neither his father nor his son possessed.
Unlike his father and his son, Isaac has only one wife. He does not struggle with God. Unlike his father and his son, his name never changes.
He is a peacemaker. When he digs wells in Genesis 26, he does not fight with the men of Gerar who take over his wells. He digs more till at last they stop bothering him.
His life, no matter what transpires, is characterized by hope.
Besides his remarkable birth as the child of promise, the two stories we know best are the incidents when he and Abraham journeyed to Mount Moriah [Genesis 22] where God had told Abraham to sacrifice his son, and when Abraham’s servant went to seek a wife for Isaac [Genesis 24].
The journey to Mount Moriah was over 50 miles and took three days. Isaac willingly walked alongside his father.
Isaac carried the wood [Genesis 22: 6] to the altar of sacrifice. He submitted to Abraham’s tying him up and laying him on the altar. He watched the knife being raised over his head. He watched God stay his father’s hand. And then he heard the bleat of the ram caught in the thicket and watched his father sacrifice the lamb in his place.
How could he not hope in the mercy of God forever after?
After Isaac’s mother Sarah died [Genesis 23], Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac. Isaac, 40 years old now, did not resist either his earthly father’s will or his heavenly Father’s will. As with his journey to Moriah, he willingly submitted to this plan and watched his father’s servant depart on his errand.
Isaac waited. It had been three years since his mother’s death and yet, he was still mourning [Genesis 24: 67]. He went out into the field to meditate. What was he thinking? Was he recounting the years of his life, his being “the child of promise”? The many trials of his life and how the Lord delivered him from them all?
And as he was walking and thinking and waiting, he looked up and saw “the camels were coming.”
Rebekah arrived and became his wife and he was comforted.
Hope does not arrive by galloping steed. Hope arrives by camel.
If today, we regret the weakness of our faith, let us remember “Faith is the substance of things ‘hoped’ for…”
If you have been beseeching God a long time for a particular need and today, someone asks, “Do you believe God is going to answer your prayer?” and all you can say is, “I hope so,” be assured God is well pleased.
Psalm 31: 24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.