“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” – Titus 2:13
“Question: How does hope differ from faith?”
“Answer: These two graces, faith and hope, are so alike that they have been taken one for the other. There is such a near affinity between them that, as Luther said, it is hard to find a difference. But, though they are placed near together like the two wings of the cherubim on the mercy seat, they are not the same. Indeed, in some things faith and hope do agree. Both feed upon the promise; both help to support the soul in trouble Faith and hope are like two balloons put under a Christian which keep him from sinking in the waters of affliction. Both of these graces, like medicinal water, comfort the fainting soul. There is joy in believing, Romans 15:13; rejoicing in hope, Romans 5:2. Faith and hope, like those two golden pipes, Zachariah 4:12, empty their golden oil of joy into a Christian; but, though in some things these two graces agree and are alike, yet in some things they differ.
Faith and hope differ in order and priority. Faith precedes and goes before hope; it is the mother grace. Faith is the ground of things hoped for, Hebrews 11:1. The promises are precious. They are like the ark which had manna laid up in it; but we must first believe the things contained in the promise before we hope for them. Therefore, Jerome said well, “Faith lights the lamp of hope as the fire of the altar lighted the lamps of the sanctuary.” Thus these graces differ in priority; hope is the daughter of faith.
They differ in their nature, and that two ways:
Hope only looks forward at things to come; faith looks backward as well as forward. It looks at things past as well as future Faith believes Christ’s passion and resurrection , as well as His coming to glory.
Hope looks at the excellency of the promise; faith looks at the certainty. Hope reads over the writing of the promise; faith looks at the seal of the promise. Titus 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie hath promised.” That which hope looks at is eternal life; that which faith looks at is the infallibility of the promise: God who cannot lie has promised. In a word, faith believes, hope waits. Faith shows a Christian the land of promise; hope sails there with patience. Thus you see how faith and hope differ, but these twins must not be parted. Faith strengthens hope and hope comforts faith, as an elm supports the vine, and the vine loads the elm with its fruit. Faith is the cable and hope the anchor, and both these help to keep the soul steady so that it does not dash upon shelves or sink in the quicksands.” -Thomas Watson (17th century)
In this time we must fix our minds on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the object of our Faith and He gives us hope. Thomas Watson and other ministers in England saw many days of heartache in their day, but they fixed their eyes on the lord and we must do the same.