I have loved this quote from Neal A. Maxwell for years:
“In the geometry of restored theology, hope has a greater circumference than faith. If faith increases, the perimeter of hope stretches correspondingly.”
In considering this recently in the temple in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I had a set of images come to mind that perhaps explain this in some respect, but add to it recent insights about the nature of Love.
Consider a two by two matrix (I am a consultant after all), wherein one side asks if we have faith something can actually happen, and the other asks if the thing we desire is God’s will.
Our focus in this life is to move the horizontal bar downward, increasing the area of faith that something can happen when it is God’s will. Our focus should not be on attempting to change God’s will.
Within this framework, the area covered by faith is very clear; it is that area that we have faith in, that is God’s will. Faith can only be in things which are true; something that is not God’s will is not true; therefore we cannot actually have faith in it.
The area of hope, though, is larger. We hope for things we do not necessarily know if they are true or not. Thus it hopefully extends over the entire column of what is God’s will, even if we don’t necessarily believe it is within his will.
Note also that we don’t always know what is God’s will; and so hope might extend a bit beyond what is his will.
If we understand God’s true nature, as a loving Heavenly Father, we can know that whether something is his will or not is always governed by his loving kindness towards us. His plan will make more of us than we can ever envision; his commitment to that ensure’s his love covers even those short-term things that are not his immediate will.
Thus the area of love is greater than both faith, or hope.