1.) hope in our Lord Jesus Christ inspires endurance in our trials and in our work (1 Thess. 1:3). It is not weariness that makes people give up; it is hopelessness. All of us have known people who are great at starting things but terrible at seeing them through. Why, when they are so capable and talented, are they always giving up? Lack of hope could be the reason. Hopeless people don’t endure.
Hope enables us to work longer and better. Professor James Avey led a team that studied the correlation between hope and absenteeism at work. They began by surveying employees and dividing them into two categories: high-hope and low-hope workers. Over the course of one year, high-hope workers missed an average of 20 hours of work (not counting planned leaves and vacations) while their low-hope counterparts missed between three and four times that much. Avey found that hope is a far more accurate predictor of productivity that any of the usual workplace metrics – like job satisfaction, commitment to the company, or competence.
Hopelessness makes work seem pointless, but hope has the opposite effect. It is no wonder that the New Testament’s most hopeful chapter closes with these words: “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). You know that when you have hope.
2) Another thing hope does: It makes us bold. St. Paul, one of history’s most hopeful people, wrote: “…since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12). A literal translation could go, “Therefore, having such a hope, we proceed with much boldness.” When we don’t have hope, we hang back, cling to what we know. Hope enables us to venture out, discover new opportunities, and grow as people.
The word translated as “boldness” carries the idea of speaking freely. Hopeful people can say what is on their minds. Think of what a difference the boldness of hope could make in sharing the good news of Jesus.
We are seeing a historic drop in church attendance, membership, and affiliation. 8o percent of churches in America are plateaued or declining. Evangelism is in peril. There are both social and philosophical reasons for this, including a rise of commitment phobia and a descent into postmodernism. But at the base of it all is hopelessness.
3) But hope not only gives us boldness to speak for Christ; it gives us opportunities as well. St. Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). When we are hopeful, people come to us. When we are not hopeful, we don’t get opportunities.
4) Here is something else. St. Paul writes in Colossians 1:5 that “faith and love spring from hope.” That means faith is hope-dependent. Take away hope and faith withers. Hopeless people become faithless people toward God and others.
(The other four things hope does for us will be posted on Thursday, 4/22)
 Adapted from Shane J. Lopez, Making Hope Happen (Atria Books, 2013), page 52.