In the scriptures hope is often linked with faith and charity. While we often talk about faith and charity, we seem to discuss hope less frequently. And yet it is an important virtue for us to understand. In the Encyclopaedia of Mormonism we read:
“The concept of hope plays a vital role in Latter-day Saint thought. Firmly centered in Christ and his resurrection, it is the ‘hope of eternal life’ (Titus 1:2) repeatedly alluded to by Paul. It is the opposite of the despair found among those who are ‘without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world’ (Eph. 2:12). As the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni writes, ‘If ye have no hope, ye must needs be in despair’ (Moro. 10:22). For those, however, who accept Christ’s Atonement and resurrection, there comes a ‘brightness of hope’ (2 Ne. 31:20) through which all who believe in God ‘might with surety hope for a better world’ (Ether 12:4).”
Note that hope must be firmly centred in Christ – we are not using hope in the everyday sense of something that we would like to come true but we are not sure of, like we hope that it will be sunny tomorrow. Preach my Gospel defines hope thus:
‘Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement. The scriptures often describe hope in Jesus Christ as the assurance that you will inherit eternal life in the celestial kingdom.’
In the gospel sense, hope is linked to Christ and the atonement. So faith (or more accurately faith in Jesus Christ), hope and charity (the pure love of Christ) are all rooted in the Saviour and his atoning sacrifice. President Uchtdorf goes further in explaining the links between hope, faith and charity:
‘Hope is critical to both faith and charity. When disobedience, disappointment, and procrastination erode faith, hope is there to uphold our faith. When frustration and impatience challenge charity, hope braces our resolve and urges us to care for our fellowmen even without expectation of reward. The brighter our hope, the greater our faith. The stronger our hope, the purer our charity.
The things we hope for lead us to faith, while the things we hope in lead us to charity. The three qualities—faith, hope, and charity —working together, grounded on the truth and light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, lead us to abound in good works.’ (General Conference, October 2008).
So, hope supports and sustains and leads to faith and charity. Likewise, hope leads to faith. In Moroni 7 we read:
40 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?
41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
Elder Jeffrey R Holland comments on this scripture:
“What is the nature of this hope? It is certainly much more than wishful thinking. It is to have ‘hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.’ That is the theological meaning of hope in the faith-hope-charity sequence. With an eye to that meaning, Moroni 7:42 then clearly reads, ‘If a man have faith [in Christ and his atonement] he must needs [as a consequence] have hope [in the promise of the Resurrection, because the two are inextricably linked]; for without faith [in Christ’s atonement] there cannot be any hope [in the Resurrection].’ (Christ and the New Covenant, p. 335)
In Romans 8:24 Paul says that we are ‘saved by hope’. It is clearly not hope for a sunny day tomorrow that saves us but the quiet assurance that comes to us through Christ’s atonement. Neal A Maxwell wrote:
“Christ-centered hope, however, is a very specific and particularized hope. It is focused on the great realities of the resurrection, eternal life, a better world, and Christ’s triumphant second coming ‘things as they really will be.’ (Jacob 4:13.)
“Moroni asked rhetorically, ‘What should we hope for?’ and, responding, said: ‘Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.’ (Moroni 7:41.)” (Notwithstanding My Weakness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 41.)
How do we gain this hope? President Uchtdorf said:
‘We learn to cultivate hope the same way we learn to walk, one step at a time. As we study the scriptures, speak with our Heavenly Father daily, commit to keep the commandments of God, like the Word of Wisdom, and to pay a full tithing, we attain hope. We grow in our ability to “abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost,” (Romans 15:13) as we more perfectly live the gospel.’ (General Conference, October 2008)
Aaron taught Lamoni’s father:
“If thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest” (Alma 22:16).