Hope Based on Faith
By Martin Accad, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)
From a New Testament perspective, hope is quite different from optimism or wishing. While I was growing up in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, we had a family friend who dropped in regularly at our home. On nearly every visit, he would share his political opinion and frame it with the optimistic statement, “All is well and all shall be well!” He made this outrageous claim whether bombs were falling around us amidst the crackling sound of AK-47s, or whether the sun was shining on the occasional peaceful afternoon. Is this sort of unjustified optimism what the writer to the Hebrews had in mind when he taught that we should be “sure of what we hope for”?
Throughout the New Testament, the concept of Christ-based hope is intimately connected with faith. Chapter 11 of the epistle to the Hebrews describes persons of faith from the Hebrew Scriptures whose hope was clearly founded on promises they had received from God—promises that motivated them to respond in obedience to God’s calling.
As I continue to live in the ongoing instability of Lebanon and the Middle East generally, I often reflect on the sense of calling from God that motivates me to remain in my country and serve him there. It is this calling that generates the hope necessary for living fruitfully in a turbulent world.
During this season, we will be often exchanging “Christmas wishes” and “best wishes for a New Year” with friends and family. Will these wishes have anything to do with the kind of hope and certainty that God invites us to endorse by faith? May we give heed this Christmas to God’s promises for us, and may we be sensitive and responsive to his calling on our lives to serve him faithfully.