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The Symbiosis of Faith and Hope

In Neal A. Maxwell’s 1984 general conference talk Brightness of Hope he said the following:

“In the geometry of restored theology, hope has a greater circumference than faith. If faith increases, the perimeter of hope stretches correspondingly.”

Elder Maxwell points out that as faith increases, so also does hope. Hope is an interesting thing, I have come to define it as: “everything that dwells within the sphere of what you actually believe is possible.” Faith is your hand pushing a flashlight out into the darkness and everything within the beam of light represents hope. Faith fuels hope which in turn, leads faith.

If we point the flashlight down toward our feet, the circle of light shrinks and the darkness crowds us in. Faith and hope either grow together or they wither together. If you don’t believe that something is possible, then you will not hope for it and you will not move to attain it.

When the idea of something crosses our mind, we have the ability to desire it and begin to think about how we might achieve the object of our desires. We begin to act in faith and as we do, our confidence increases because hope does as well, we see a path in front of us and we have a place for our faith to go.

All of that said, I think hope can also lead faith. If we find that our faith is weak, we can expand our capacity for hope by turning to the word of God and obtaining an idea of what is possible. Think about the second and third questions and answers from the catechism of Lecture 3:

What is the effect of the idea of [God’s] existence among men? It lays the foundation for the exercise of faith in him.

Is the idea of his existence, in the first instance, necessary in order for the exercise of faith in him? It is.

All the ideas that are spread out for us in the scriptures gives us the ability to have faith. There is no need to sit around stagnant wondering what to do, we can go to correct sources to obtain correct ideas until hope arises and reveals a path. One with great faith must also have a great hope.