Most people give more importance to love and faith than they do to hope, but that’s not what Scripture says.
Look at 1 Corinthians 13:13:
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Since love is the greatest of the three and hope is just before love, that means hope is the second greatest, even above faith. Hope is more powerful than they realize. Something the Lord shared with me that really made this truth come alive is that hope is a positive imagination.
Romans 8:24-25 says,
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Here, Paul was saying that hope is for something that isn’t seen, something that isn’t present. Once it becomes present, there’s no longer any reason to hope for it. So, hope means you’re looking at something that you can’t see. You might be thinking, Well, if you can’t see it, how are you looking at it? You can see things with your heart, and this is what I believe the imagination is.
In Isaiah 26:3, it says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” The word “mind” here is translated “imagination” four other times in the Old Testament. So, you could quote this verse this way: “The Lord will keep you in perfect peace when your imagination is stayed upon Him.”
A lot of Christians would reject the idea of imagination because they nearly always relegate it to something that’s childish. But your imagination is your ability to see with your heart what you can’t see with your eyes, and you use this every single day.
You may not have thought about this, but did you know that you couldn’t get home if you didn’t have an imagination? It’s because in your mind, you picture your house and how to get there.
You think in pictures. An example of this would be if I said “apple,” you wouldn’t see the letters a-p-p-l-e—you’d see an apple. You might picture a red apple or a green apple, but I could refine what I wanted you to see by saying “a big red apple.” The more words I used to describe the apple, the clearer the picture would become in your mind. Whether you know this or not, you can’t think of something you can’t picture. You need to be able to picture something to truly comprehend it.
Your imagination is how you think, how you meditate, how you understand, and how you remember things. You really can’t do anything without an imagination. You have to take the Word of God and let it excite your imagination.
It says in Genesis 6:5,
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
This is talking about deep thoughts, not just surface thoughts. God deals with us on a heart level (1 Sam. 16:7), and He sees the imaginations of our hearts. The reason I’m spending so much time on this is because a lot of people just don’t think that imagination is that big of a deal. But the Lord dealt with people according to the imaginations of their hearts.
Hope is more than “I want this to happen” or “I wish this would happen.” Hope is your imagination. Every time the Scripture talks about imagination in a positive way, it uses the word hope. When Paul talked about hope, he was seeing things with his heart. He was taking the promises of God, and through those promises, he was seeing God cause him to succeed. And sad to say, most people, because they don’t understand this process or how important this is, they allow their imaginations to be controlled by other things—and they see themselves failing. They see themselves poor or sick.
But when what God has told you becomes a vision on the inside of you, you will wait for it with patience (Rom. 8:25). People who can quit and give up are people whose imagination is negative—they’re seeing the negative side of something instead of the positive side of it. They don’t have hope.
Whether you know it or not, your imagination is dictating how your life goes. And if you aren’t aware of what I’m talking about and don’t think this is important, all it means is you aren’t controlling your imagination. It’s being manipulated and controlled for you, and you see the negative.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. (Prov. 23:7a)
The way you think is the way your life is going. And this may not bless some of you, but it’s intended to help you: If your life isn’t going well, if things are a mess, it’s because you’ve conceived it in your imagination. Your imagination is like soil. Soil doesn’t care what kind of seed you plant in it; the moment it’s planted, the soil starts producing. It’s the same thing with your heart and your imagination. Your imagination will conceive something and automatically start making it come to pass, whether it’s positive or negative. It’s like your spiritual womb. That’s a big statement.
The imagination isn’t moral or immoral; it’s what you focus your attention on that affects it. You get to choose whether your imagination is positive—which is hope—or negative, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I could spend a lot of time talking about this, but the bottom line is you need to shut off all the negative things that are grabbing at you. Luke 21:26 says that people’s hearts would fail them for fear, looking at all the things that are happening on the earth. You have to stay in God’s Word and let it dominate you, or I guarantee you, the unbelief of this world will extinguish your positive imagination. It’ll make it become vain.
So, I’ve laid a foundation for this, but there is much more to share that I think would really help you. God will put a positive imagination, a hope, in you that’ll make a difference, and you’ll be believing and looking for better results than you ever have. Hope is powerful. Again, it’s the second greatest thing in the Christian life, greater even than faith. You’ve got to understand the power of your imagination if you’re going to harness the power of hope. As I share about hope in my newest teaching, The Power of Hope, I believe that this could establish some things in your life that would move you in a positive direction and make a huge difference for you.
If you’ve been hopeless and you know you’ve been looking only at the natural circumstances and negative things in your life, I pray that God would help you to change your focus and start seeing the positive things He has for you. I believe that as you listen to this teaching, a positive imagination will come alive in you. Hope will start motivating you and driving you toward God the Father. Thank You, Jesus.