Faith and Hope in Religion

At the time I began writing this, there was a conversation brewing about the differences of “hope’ and “faith” and what they mean to individual practitioners. I should say that I’m not quite sure that it was really a conversation, persay, but both Chiro and DON were talking about it, at the very least.

It made me realize that while I understand what “hope” and ‘faith” are and what it means to have them… I only really understand it in a minute and intangible sense. I’ve realized that up until now I was copying language and mannerisms of others without actually understanding the concepts myself or questioning what they meant to me- almost like a case of “monkey see, monkey do”. Indeed, sometimes I feel that religious people far too often suffer from such a roadblock in their religious and spiritual lives, following and mimicking what they’re taught but never stopping to question how i relates to them or how they particularly feel about it. In this instance, I am very much guilty.

So if I understand “hope” and “faith” in such an intangible manner that I am unable to actually articulate the nuances between them, then where do I turn to figure it out? The dictionary, as with all things. We are talking about me after all.

The dictionary lists similar and yet different definitions for both “hope” and “faith”. For “hope” it states the definition as “a feeling of expectation and / or desire for a certain thing to happen”, wish a secondary (archaic) definition as “a feeling of trust”. “Faith”, on the other hand, it lists as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something” with a secondary religious definition meaning “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof”.

There is definitely a bit of an overlap between the archaic definition of “hope” and the common, non-religious definition of “faith”, for certain. I do think that both speak of different types of trust; that faith speaks of total and complete trust, whereas hope speaks of a current and maybe comforting feeling that may come or go at any time.

However, the first definitions of both do seem to be completely different and speak of different emotions entirely. It’s here that I feel the definitions are closer to my own belief in what these terms might mean- or at least are congruent enough that I don’t feel as if I’ve been that far off the mark all these years.

I feel hope genuinely isn’t too far off from a wish- and indeed, the word hope does appear in the definition of a wish: “to feel or express a strong desire or hope for something that is not easily attainable; to want something that cannot or probably will not happen”. But where “Wish” seems to refer to things that are unlikely to come to pass, “Hope” seems to refer to those that are more likely, or are at least a bit more realistic in most cases.

“I hope that my offerings are accepted”. “I hope I get this job”. “I hope that I’ll make a new friend”… Hope is a feeling of positive expectancy, it is not a belief that it will undoubtedly happen or a trust in someone else to do it. It is doing what you can and then looking into the unknown with a flutter of uncertainty in your chest willing a positive or beneficial outcome to manifest itself out of your labor… But it is also ultimately recognizing that it is out of your hands; that it is no longer up to you whether or not that outcome shall manifest.

Faith, on the other hand, is almost exclusively about belief and trust in something else. One thing I have noticed is that for those who have strong faith, there is no uncertainty. “Blind Faith” is but one example of this: the complete and total trust and belief even in the absence of any evidence or confirmation that that trust is well placed. It is sitting back and allowing things to unfold according to the will of whatever or whoever, because you believe that they will do something; that they exist, and that they will always be there, that they will always overcome their obstacles, or that they will always provide what is needed at exactly the right moment that it is required.

In my experience, both are fragile creatures easily built up and then shattered by the smallest thing- and yet they arepowerful beyond all belief.

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