Faith, Hope & Love
Faith, hope, and love: We often find these three words together, but they were not found together in recorded literature until the apostle Paul.
These three virtues encompass the most critical human longings.
Faith addresses the universal longing for security in life and for our lives to have meaning. Without faith, life is marked by distrust, noncommitment, and meaninglessness. Bertrand Russell sums up well the emptiness of life without faith: “We stand on the shore of an ocean, crying to the night, and the emptiness; sometimes a voice answers out of the darkness. But it is a voice of one drowning; and in a moment the silence returns.”
Faith provides the strength we need and which we long for in the dark times of our lives. While speaking out against Nazism in Germany during the reign of the Third Reich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated, “I believe that God can and will bring good out of evil, even out of the greatest evil. I believe that God will give us all the strength we need to help us to resist in all times of distress. But He never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not on Him alone.”
Oswald Chambers adds, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”
Faith that is grounded on the character of God gets us through the toughest of challenges.
Hope addresses the universal longing for significance, contentment, purpose, and destiny to life. Without hope, life is marked by despair and discouragement. Without a hope that is grounded in the presence of and the goodness of God, Documentary filmmaker Sheila Nevins said in an interview on NPR, “I don’t know where we came from. I don’t know where we’re—well, I know I came from a fish, but I don’t really know where I’m going…. It’s a terrifying thing to be alive and human and not know why you’re here, who put you here, don’t you think?”
Hope in the goodness of God and the presence of God lifts our souls up from despair. As Emily Dickinson points out, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” Hebrews 11:1 puts faith and hope together in a wonderful way: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Love brings a sense of joy and fulfillment to life.
Love addresses our universal longing for acceptance, belonging, and community. Without love, life is marked by apathy, hostility, and loneliness. Mother Teresa points out, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” Larry Crabb adds, “Because we were wired to breathe the life-giving air of community, we cannot endure the thought of isolation. We fear aloneness—life without connection, achievement without companionship, existence without friendship, forever wandering in lonely despair. Loneliness is a taste of hell.”
Love, however, brings fulfillment. C. Neil Strait comments, “Love is the ingredient that makes every relationship in life, whatever it is, a little better. Love has a capacity to mend the broken, heal the hurting, and inspire the despairing. Love that reaches beyond the misunderstandings and the failures is a love that unites and encourages. Such a love is one of our world’s greatest needs.”
No wonder Paul wrote so often about faith, hope and love. No wonder God calls us to practice these three virtues.