Summary: Hope is vital to an abundant life, but there are three reasons we are losing our hope, and shattering the foundation of our lives.

On Wednesday nights we’ve started the DVD study by John Ortberg entitled, The Me I Want To Be. In that study he relates a medical term, a three-letter acronym: F.T.T.

It gets entered into the chart of an infant who, often for unknown reasons, is unable to gain weight or grow.

“FTT” means failure to thrive. I checked in the book the DVD series is based on, and there I found this additional information.

Psychologists have begun to speak of what is perhaps the largest mental health problem in our day. It is not depression or anxiety, at least not at clinical levels. It is languishing – a failure to thrive.

Languishing is the condition of someone who may be able to function but has lost a sense of hope and meaning.

No, I’m not doing a commercial for Wednesday night Bible study; though you are welcome to join in at any time. I want to focus today on one of the words in Ortberg’s statement of what we have lost: Hope.

Let’s read a familiar verse:

So these three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 NCV

I made a brief statement about this verse in my last sermon, five weeks ago. I didn’t have a lot of time to expound on my thoughts without straying from the topic of that sermon, so I put my musings down a little more in a blog post a few days before. Let me read some of that for you:

[Paul] tells us about three elements of our lives that supersede all others: faith, hope and love.

Love cannot truly exist apart from faith. It is God who teaches us what real love is, based upon His own love demonstrated toward us. Faith is needed when accepting who God is and what He teaches us. Love is, therefore, dependent upon faith.

Faith is likewise dependent upon hope.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for…

(Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

…If we do not have hope, we lose the basis of faith. If we lose faith, we cannot truly know and give out love. How then are we to enjoy “the greatest of these”?

Think of faith, hope and love as a pyramid where each layer is dependent upon the strength of those below it.

• Paul told us that the greatest of these is love.

• John tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). So to experience the truest love you must have faith in God.

• The writer of Hebrews tells us that faith requires hope to exist.

In order to have faith and love, we must first have hope. If we lose our hope, we lose the foundation for the greatest works, experiences and gifts we can lay hold of in this life.

If you take the time to look closely at our world, our community, and maybe even our church, you can put down the diagnosis of FTT, failure to thrive.

Why aren’t we growing? Why aren’t we living an abundant life? Why can’t we seem to get ahead or achieve victory? We have lost our hope.

How did we lose our hope?

1. We have no expectation for good things to happen.

Listen to how Webster’s defines hope:

A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.

The key to hope is expectation.

Did you notice that I didn’t say that we lack an expectation for bad things to happen?

We’ve come to expect dissatisfaction with our lives. We don’t have to look any further than our prayer lives to see it in action. What do you expect to happen when you pray?

We believe that those we pray for will be healed, but we’ve also got the sense to do the math. How many people have I prayed for? How many have been healed? Will this person really be healed if I pray for them?

Expectation is the issue because if we don’t expect God to heal, we prove that we really don’t believe God will heal, at least not at our request. Sure God can heal, and He might do it for some, but He won’t use me to do it. What we think is belief is actually head acknowledgement of what God said. It isn’t faith that He will use the foolish things of the world (that’s us) to confound the wise.

What are your expectations for other areas in your life?

• What do you expect to happen to your children when they go off to school?

• What do you expect to happen when you pull into the parking lot at work?

• When you’ve gone to work for the day or out running errands, what do you expect your spouse to have done while you were gone?

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