Select Wisdom Brand

Click the image to watch the video.
Scroll down for more options.



Two Ingredients of Hope

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 4:17–25

True, lasting hope cannot be based on ever-changing circumstances, whether good or bad. Hope is found in knowing God and trusting Him, the one who is all-powerful and always faithful.


I read some time ago about a small town in Maine that had been selected as the location for a new hydroelectric plant. A dam was going to be built in the river nearby, and the town would eventually be submerged in water as a result of the newly formed lake. When the government project was announced to the town, the people were given many months to arrange their affairs, get reimbursed for their property, and then relocate. But during those final months a curious thing happened. That little town fell into complete disrepair. No buildings were painted. Landscaping was neglected. Repairs were no longer made on any of the roads, sidewalks, or homes. In fact, several months before the water submerged that little town, it looked abandoned, even though the people were still living there. Why? Because there was no hope in the future of that town; and as one of the townspeople said to a reporter, “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.”[1]

How true that is in life.

Someone once said that a person can live forty days without food, eight days without water, and four minutes without air, but no one can truly live—even for one minute—without hope.

I find it interesting in the Bible that there is a connection between faith and hope. When you find one of these words in the Bible you often find the other word nearby. For example, Paul writes in Galatians 5:5, “Through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”

So far in Romans 4, Paul has been using Abraham as an example to illustrate that faith alone justifies the believer. Now Abraham is going to be used as an example of hope.

Look at verse 17:

As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Paul is recalling God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:5 that He would make him the father of a multitude of nations. 

In fact, God did not say, “I will make you a father of many nations.” The future tense is not used; rather, the perfect tense is used. In other words, it is already done. As far as God is concerned, this promise is already delivered. Abraham is already the father of many nations, even though at the time of God’s promise, Abraham and Sarah did not have one child. Abraham had yet to change one diaper when God made him this promise.

But we are told here that Abraham “believed.” That is, he had faith—he believed God—even though, as we will see in a moment, the fulfillment of that promise seemed impossible.

That is why Paul highlights here in verse 17 that God “gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.”

When you understand that God has this kind of power, you have every reason to believe His promises; you have every reason, then, to have hope in life. If God can create life, He can control your life and mine. Perhaps it is because Abraham’s case seemed so hopeless that Paul reminds us of Abraham’s example of both faith and hope.

Paul now brings out two ingredients of hope that are demonstrated in Abraham’s life. The first ingredient is a commitment to believe without seeing—verse 18:

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”

Back in verse 17, the verb tenses seem almost cruel. God said to Abraham, “I have made you the father of many nations.” From God’s perspective, this was already done. But Abraham certainly did not see nations or descendants as numerous as the sands of the sea and the stars in the sky.

When Abraham was first given this promise, he was seventy-five years old. Even his name seemed to mock him—Abram means “exalted father.” He was not a father. There was not one time he had to get out of bed at two o’clock in the morning to give his baby a bottle so Sarah could sleep a little longer. He was not an exalted father at all!

Then in Genesis 17, God met him again. Abram was ninety-nine years old and had one son now through Hagar, but that son, Ishamel, was not the son of promise. That would be a son through his wife Sarah, as God had promised.

God even changed Abram’s name to Abraham—from “exalted father” to “father of a multitude”! How is that for a name change? And yet we are told, Abraham believed God. He committed afresh to believing without seeing.

That leads me to the second ingredient of hope—a choice to trust without evidence. Note Paul’s words in verse 19:

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb.

Wait a second! It seems like Abraham did grow weak in his faith several times. But God graciously summarizes Abraham’s life in light of his ultimate faith in God’s sovereign plan.

God does the same thing with you and me today. He views us as who we are in Christ. We are cleansed. The record of our sin has already been swept clean by the blood of Christ.

Paul points out here that the promise of God does not make any sense physically. The evidence speaks against this old couple needing to go buy a crib and little blue curtains for the nursery.

Paul writes that Abraham was now “about a hundred years old” (verse 19). His wife, Sarah, was ninety years old and had never been able to have a child before.

All the evidence pointed to the hopelessness of their situation. But Abraham believed that his all-powerful God could give life to the dead.

Verse 20 says he did not “waver concerning the promise of God.” In fact, his faith grew stronger over time and he “gave glory to God.” Verse 21 adds that he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

Now do not think that this kind of faith and hope was just for Abraham. Paul goes on to end chapter 4 with these words:

That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (verses 22-24)

How do you deal with seemingly hopeless circumstances, when the visible evidence does not align with God’s promises? You remember who God is—the all-powerful God who proved His power by giving life to old Abraham and Sarah and proved it even further by raising His Son from the dead. If He can do that, we have every reason to choose to trust Him today.  

Listen, beloved, hope and trust in Christ does not ignore the evidence or minimize the difficulties and pain and challenges of life. But hope does not stop there. Hope does not live in the shadows.

Hope is a choice to trust—sometimes one moment at a time. It occurred to me some time ago that hope has a lot to do with preoccupation! When you are preoccupied with circumstances, you lose hope. But when you are preoccupied with God, hope is restored because you know God is fully capable of keeping His promises—and He will in time.

To put it simply, the best way to have hope today is to concentrate on Him.

[1] John Maxwell, Your Attitude: Key to Success (Here’s Life, 1984), 120.

Add a Comment

We hope this resource blessed you. Our ministry is EMPOWERED by your prayer and ENABLED by your financial support.