Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
— 1 Corinthians 13:6-7, 13 NIV
Scott and I began to notice a trend about four weeks into COVID-19 lockdown: Monday had become Glum-day for us both. For most of our nearly 30 years together, we’ve always kept up the dance that when one partner was down, the other could carry him/her for a while (Ecclesiastes 4:10). Rarely have we both been down at the same time … until now. One Monday afternoon when we just sat and stared out the window, we tried to analyze why we were struggling so much, and the word “hope” came bubbling to the surface. We realized that we would spend the weekends on Zoom calls with extended family, talk to each of our kids and their families, “attend” church in Croatian and then in English, and even video-conference with our homegroup Sunday night. And then Monday would come drained of hope that we’ll get to be with those we love, and we’d stare out the window feeling the distance to when we would get to do it again. So where is my hope on Glum-day?
Psalm 42:5 expresses my feelings and my need beautifully: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (NIV). Hope is the anticipation of what is before us that puts a smile on our face and a jump in our step. It’s remembering that there is a future beyond social distancing, these four walls, and our limited interaction with others. I have to, as John Piper says often, “preach a sermon to myself” and remember that even on the sad days, there is hope and reason to hold on.
Paul in Scripture often connects the ideas of faith, hope and love. First Thessalonians 1:3 says, “…remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love, and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (ESV). Galatians 5:5-6 strings these concepts together as well: “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (ESV). Paul’s trifecta in 1 Corinthians 13:13 puts hope smack between faith and love and then declares, “…but the greatest of these is love.” While I have neither skill nor space to dissect each of these weighty concepts, Paul emphasizes the necessity and value of each of these characteristics as we follow Jesus.
One thing that faith, hope and love all have in common is that they all affect how I live in the present. On Glum-day, I can kvetch at my current condition and snip at my spouse, or I can take hold of that which is truly life (1 Timothy 6:19). With my faith firmly anchored in the works of Christ, I can choose to live in the hope of what Christ is working in me, of freedom from the grip of sin, and in God’s working all things together for my good. Taking hold of that life also means I can love those around me by dropping off flowers to someone who’s also stuck at home, or by cooking for my family, or forgiving my husband. If love is not changing my behavior in my “now,” the future work of faith and hope lose their power. SO when Glum-day comes, I have to cling to the truth of Colossians 3:14, “And above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (ESV). How are you living out faith, hope and love today?
ACTION: When do your glum days hit you? Can you put a finger on which concept you’re missing on those days: faith, hope or love? Take some time and write out a breath prayer to your Father for each of these concepts of faith, hope and love.
Prayer: Oh God of all days – including Glum-day, help me to abide in you by faith, to hold fast to Your hope when it’s hard to see my future, and to live in love with those around me today. You are the giver of faith, hope and love; help me to model your life. Amen.