In a dozen different places, the scriptures link together three great Christian attributes—faith, hope, and charity (e.g., see 1 Corinthians 13:13; Ether 12:28; Moroni 7:1; D&C 6:19). The frequency of this linkage suggests that these three attributes have great importance to us. In fact, in one place we are told, “If you have not faith, hope, and charity, you can do nothing” (D&C 18:19).
Earlier in my life, it seemed odd to me that hope would be one of the “big three.” The other two are clearly of great significance. Faith in Jesus Christ is the foundational doctrine, the absolute prerequisite to making the plan of salvation a reality in our lives. And charity is the great outcome of faith and belief. When we are truly converted and striving to be a disciple of Christ, we try to love God and our fellow men as Christ does. His pure love is the model for all of our relationships.
Well, of course hope is important, I thought to myself. But is it really up there in importance with faith and charity? What about all the other important doctrines and principles?
Why not faith, obedience, and charity?
Why not faith, repentance, and charity?
Why not faith, service, and charity?
Why not faith, revelation, and charity?
In the past few years, I am finally coming to understand why hope takes precedence over those other doctrines and principles in that triad of virtues. In the October 2008 general conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke on the power that can be found in hope. He compared faith, hope, and charity to a three-legged stool, which can “stabilize our lives regardless of the rough or uneven surfaces we might encounter at the time.” He then gave this powerful definition of hope: “Hope is not knowledge, but rather the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to us. It is confidence that if we live according to God’s laws and the words of His prophets now, we will receive desired blessings in the future.”10
President James E. Faust put it in nearly identical terms: “Hope is trust in God’s promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future.”11
10. Uchtdorf, “The Infinite Power of Hope,” 21, 22.
11. James E. Faust, “Hope, an Anchor of the Soul,” Ensign, November 1999, 60.