Prepare For the Worst, Hope For the Best

Today’s quote is a popular English proverb about preparation. This is common sense, and very wise counsel, but is it Biblical?

“Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.” – Anonymous English Proverb

In the 20th chapter in the book of Acts the Apostle Paul declares that he must go to Jerusalem. Then in Acts 21 the prophet Agabus prophesied that if Paul went to Jerusalem he would be bound. Paul however, was prepared and determined to go anyway.

“For I am ready [prepared] not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” – Acts 21:13 NKJV [brackets added]

Paul was prepared for the worst, even the possibility that he would die. Yet he was undeterred because his hope was in God and in the seeing of many souls being saved through the preaching of the Gospel. He was prepared for the worst yet hoping for the best.

“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24 NKJV

Whether it is explicitly stated or not, Paul lived by the motto of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best (which was that he, and those to whom he preached, would be saved in the Kingdom of Heaven). We do however see it explicitly in his teachings to the Thessolonians and Ephesians.

“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” –  Thessalonians 5:8 KJV

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” – Ephesians 6: 10-11 KJV

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:13-17 KJV

Prepare for the worst: put on the whole armor.

Hope for the best: take the helmet, which is the hope, of salvation.

There are countless other examples of this principle in the Word of God, which ones can you find? And if you do, please share.


Prepare For the Worst, Hope For the Best — 3 Comments

  1. I think this is misleading. In your explaination of preparing fir the worst, you misinterpret what they are really preparing for… They are preparing for the battle or situation, not for the worst. As the proverbs is understood literally, is to prepare for the worst is to make preparations in case what you hope for does not come to pass or in other words in case of failure. This is not what Paul is preparing for, he is preparing for the battle (not the worst) expecting to win, knowing that he will need the armor of God to stand the fight.

  2. I think that the message of taking up one’s cross and submitting to Christ’s leadership, and thereby following Him, can be a journey into times of unexpected trials and tribulations of which there is no way to prepare, except we must prepare our heart to give thanks in all things and look for all things to work out for our eternal good.

  3. I have an example of this saying in the three Hebrew men: Hananiah (Shadrach),Mishael(Meshach), Azariah(Abed-Nego). They hoped for the best:”O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case (being thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing to your idol), our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us from your hand.” They prepared for the worst: “But if not, let it be known to you, O King, that we do not serve your god’s, nor do we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Fortunately for them, their hope was granted, while their preparation was put to the test by King Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath. Thank God for these men and their brilliant example to us of hoping for the best, while preparing for the worst!

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