This is a simple, direct hymn. It’s not ornate or eloquent like some hymns. It’s just one verse expressing one simple idea: Faith in God helps us overcome fear.
Fear is an emotion that’s all about the future. It doesn’t make any sense to fear for the past; we fear when we look at what’s happening around us and have anxiety at what it might lead to. Fear is, of course, a useful emotion in the same way that pain is a useful sensation—it can warn us of dangerous situations and help protect us. If we live constantly in fear, though, we’re missing something important: Hope.
Just as fear is based in anxiety about the future, hope is based in belief in a better future. In a gospel context, Hope refers to our anxious desire for the blessings God has offered to us. We have hope that our families will be eternal, hope that we will live eternally with our Heavenly Father, hope that our pains and sorrows in this life will be made right in the next. The Gospel of Christ really does offer some wonderful gifts to those who will live by its precepts.
I’ve often heard that faith and fear are opposites. While the message is sound, I would modify it slightly. I would suggest that Hope and Fear are opposites. Hope is a view toward a better future; fear is a view toward a worse one.
What, then, are we to make of this hymn, that has as its closing line this phrase:
His love assures that fear departs when faith endures.
Numerous passages of scriptures declare a relationship between faith in Christ and this gospel-centered Hope. Mormon wrote eloquently about it in Moroni 7:
And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?
And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope. (Moroni 7:40-42)
As we build our faith in Christ, we will also build our faith in his promises. We will have a greater belief in the atonement of Christ, in his Resurrection, and in the wonderful gift of Eternal Life. Faith cannot be built without action, and as we act in accordance with gospel principles, we will naturally look forward with an eye of hope toward these blessings.
Hope built from faith leaves little room for long-lasting fear. We might still have temporary fear; hope in Christ does little to calm the nerves of a parent watching their young child perched precariously on a ledge. But the long-lasting fears—fear of losing loved ones forever, fear of death, fear of nothingness, fear of separation—these fears are all washed away in the hope of promised blessings, the hope that is the fruit of the seed of faith.
Build your faith.