Hope is a troublesome virtue

Hope is a troublesome virtue in that it tends to run squarely against human experience, but that’s what makes it hope.

There are many virtues corresponded to the ultimate fulfillment of human flourishing, the greatest of these being “love”.  “Faith” of course is the first among the theological virtues, faith being the source of the others, or at least that through which the others are born and begin to grow.

Still, even faith is a knowing and believing relative to understanding, or a dependence upon a source understood to be worthy by virtue of some fineness of moral qualities.  Faith rests on relational knowing and understanding; hope rests on unseen and unexperienced things.

Hope is the application of faith to those things contrary to present experience.

As with all virtues, hope can become weathered in the absence of appreciable exercise.  Virtues in themselves are like a status or a condition and unchangable by conditions, but as experienced they are stronger or weaker.  The main harms to the integrity of one’s hope are time and circumstance.

Abraham was a man of faith, believing God in the face of impossibility, being that his body had long since been betrayed to the years and yet the promise of God was his fixed star by which to navigate this life.  As much as he walked by faith and not by sight, he lived in hope and his hope was not disappointed.

Jacob fixed his heart on the blessing of God and being sure of the object of his faith, lived in hope that neither his brother, nor his father, nor even God himself would keep him from that eventuality.  Thus God said of him when he reached that place, “You have struggled with God and with man and have prevailed”.

Jeremiah sat in the mud of the well, his prison and place for thinking deep thoughts and measured his circumstances by the judgements of God, and in hope had little to say about his deliverance, it being an inevitable means to God’s greater glory.

But Hope still has that nagging habit of being a hope in the “not yet” and the not yet being a postponement of a sincere longing for an obvious good, and the postponement of obvious goods being understood only through times of their absence, and suffering, and waiting for things that are yet to be.

Faith sees; love acts; hope waits; and waiting feeds the virtue of patience (also an inherent good in the character of the human soul) that while being beneficial in the long run is never pleasant in the interim.


One thought on “Hope is a troublesome virtue

  1. Wonderful, let us not also forget that hope is what distinguishes us as Christians from other religions. We hope, we have that feeling of expectation and desire for the 2nd coming of Christ, to make it to heaven, and to have Glorified bodies. it is through “faith” we know that this Hope will come through as we believe the written word of God (The scriptures). Other religions claim to have a hope of eternal life, but their beliefs are founded on man’s thoughts and opinions rather than infallible and inerrant truth.


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