We know from experience that when we lack faith, our hopes remain Earthbound and temporal. They seek little more than our physical and emotional good as we march towards our eventual end. However, God formed man to recognize that we have a mysterious destiny beyond this world. We realize that Earthly happiness proves transient and knows many enemies. Yet, we yearn for the secure, undiluted happiness that only comes from meeting its source face to face.
With sins piled up behind us as substantial as Mt. Everest, can we have any hope of eternal happiness? Do we need faith to have hope?
The Three Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity
Humans experience ordinary hope (I hope my friend likes my gift) and faith (the sun will rise again tomorrow), and they are as natural as your nose. But the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are special. God alone grants them and they can't come to you by your own reason, effort or natural virtue. If they could, then Satan could extinguish them at his pleasure.
Because the hope of the soul comes from God, all Satan can do is attempt to deceive man against it. As the Accuser, the devil tells you one of two things: that either your salvation is guaranteed no matter what you do, think or believe; or that your sins are so horrendous that you can never be forgiven and saved. He tries to instill either presumption or despair.
Hope Sees a Future Worth Having
But supernatural hope, implanted by faith, conquers presumption and despair. Faith, through our consciences, instructs us that we can still choose, by mortal sin, to separate ourselves from a destiny with God. By faith, we avoid the sin of presuming that we will enjoy perfect happiness with Him no matter what we do. Faith reminds us that God never casts us away. Rather, when we commit grave sin, it is our conscious decision to cast Him away.
With hope, we recognize that our fallen nature cannot supply us with forgiveness and salvation, but that God supplies it for us. Hope informs us that if we sincerely desire perfect happiness, He will ensure it on our behalf. We need not ever despair of His love and willingness to forgive even the most intractable sin upon our repentance. Pope Benedict explains in Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope): "We see as a distinguishing mark of Christians the fact that they have a future: It is not that they know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness. Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well." (SS 2)
Hope and Faith Walk Hand in Hand
The virtues of faith and hope prove one in essence. As the Father eternally begets the Son, so faith begets hope. When God increases in us one, we receive yet more of the other. As faith builds hope, we have nothing to fear from this life because we know our end opens the gates to perfect happiness.
If you struggle with the wounds of abortion and the temptation to despair, please contact us at Bethesda Healing Ministry. We offer loving support for those who need to know that all is not lost. God's loving kindness makes healing not only possible but real.