I think for most of us the definition of faith has been given to us at what I call “face value.” As in, “Oh, yah, faith is when we believe in things we can’t see…” and then we leave it at that. But, isn’t that also hope? How then are faith and hope different?
Here is a very short story of how I like to explain the definition of faith…and in consequence, it shows how faith and hope are different.
Molly wants a doll. Her mother tells her she’s old enough to earn money to buy her own doll. Molly’s mom promises Molly that for every extra special chore she does, she will earn 50 cents. She can then choose to save that money to buy the doll she wants.
Molly has some sense of trust in her mother, but she’s never been asked to offer this much effort before in order to get what she wants. She very much hopes that her mother will keep her word and pay her 50 cents for the extra chores. She also hopes she will have the patience and endurance to do all the chores. It’s really going to test just how much she wants this doll. Molly hopes. She’s never really done this before. Yes, she has enough hope to try.
Molly takes longer to do the extra chores than she planned. But she does find the discipline to do them and her mom does indeed keep her word to pay Molly 50 cents every time. Finally, Molly has enough to buy her doll. She does.
Again, Molly wants a new toy. But this time, when she goes to her mom to make a deal to work to get what she wants, she has evidence that she will 1) have the discipline to do what her mom asks, 2) that her mother will keep her word and pay her an amount in exchange for her extra efforts, and 3) she’ll be able to get what she wants as an end result of the deal.
Why is this time different than the first time? Well, Molly has done a similar deal before. She has substantial evidence—past experience—that indicates she does not hope in herself, her mother, or her end result in vain. This time, she has “hope + evidence.” She has faith.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Faith = hope + substantial evidence
Hope = desire + willingness to try
What I love about hope is that it exists—it can exist—when we are still accruing sufficient evidence to develop the power of faith. Hope is a precursor power to the higher power of faith. Hope is the key to opening the door of the power of faith. Faith is not mere belief; it is a power, an action we take based on substantial evidence. Thus, faith is not blind, and the word “unseen” applies more to the notion of futurity (that the future hasn’t taken place yet), rather than that the future is in question. Faith is not doubt. Faith is assurance. Assurance can only come when hope has been exercised and substantial evidence has been the result.
People often walk away from God because they say they have lost their faith. And yet, they have experiences—real life experiences and evidence that has not ceased to exist. Thus, what they’ve actually lost is their hope. The evidence remains. They’ve simply decided to stop hoping.
If faith—a godly power—exists when we combine our hope in Christ with the substantial (substance) evidence we have of our own progression through covenant and blessing with Him, then faith can only die when we—of our own choice—remove our hope in Him.
Moroni 7:40 says, “And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?”
If you ever struggle with your faith, then I hope you will revisit your relationship with, and your hope in, Jesus Christ. The evidence you already have hasn’t gone anywhere. All you need to get back is your hope.
Article written by Bethany Tolley, The Doctrine Lady