A long time ago in a small Texas town, I worked at the nicest family owned country store. It was an old building, a bit rustic and weathered. It had a grocery section, a fresh meat counter, and a small deli that served delicious chopped beef sandwiches. Brisket was smoked outside. And local deer meat was processed into sausage. The folks I worked with were some of the nicest people you could meet.
Me and my fellow employees liked to talk while we worked at making sandwiches and keeping the place neatly stocked. We’d take turns ringing up customers’ goodies at the register. One day, as we carried out our usual tasks, I had a specific friendly question in mind to ask the ladies and gentlemen I worked with.
It was sort of a little multiple choice test; I was curious what the answers would be. There were three options: A, B, and C. When asking, I changed the order of the selection each time and also made sure their answer was not heard by others (no cheating). The question was, “Which of these is the greatest?” The possibilities: hope, love, and faith.
Before answering, my coworkers all seemed to genuinely think about it for a few seconds. Nobody randomly guessed. And afterwards, they gave a short general reason or two why they picked their option; each one felt sure of the final choice they made.
Some answered, “faith.” My recollection is fuzzy since many years have passed. Yet in general, they reasoned that, above all else, you must believe in something or someone. Faith may be the most religious or spiritual sounding choice among the others. It must carry significant weight. Never giving up belief in God or in “the good” should be greatest, they thought.
Others said, “hope.” Of course, you should never lose hope! It is the most valuable, some figured. Hope is the most positive of all the options. It also seems similar to faith because you can hope for the best or have faith that the right thing will happen. Yet hope sounds more uplifting or encouraging, so it’s got to be greater than faith.
Nobody chose, “love.” This was very surprising to me. There were only three choices, so one would think that all of them would be an answer at least one time. Plus, it seems fairly easy to see love as a big deal in life, so maybe it could be the greatest one. Yet no single person (admittedly, it wasn’t a large sampling) answered that love is greater than hope or faith.
Valentine’s Day was last week, February 14th. We have a whole entire day dedicated to love (I “heart” my wife)! Is there a calendar day committed to hope? Do we have a national holiday for faith (some might say Easter or Christmas are about faith or hope)?
Which do you think is greatest: love, hope, or faith?