At first ‘hope in troubled times’ sounded like a no-brainer to me. After all, that oh-so-familiar Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We have hope because we have Christ, right? …Right? I have to be honest: I can quote verses about hope all day, but I have a hard time knowing what that’s supposed to feel like.
Read Romans 8:16-25. We are children and heirs of God if we suffer with Christ in order to be glorified with Him. Paul says our suffering now is “not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (v18). God subjected creation to unwilling futility (pointlessness or uselessness) “in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption” (v21). He says creation and even we who are children of God “groan together in the pains of childbirth” (v22-23) “as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (v23). “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (v24-25). The NKJV translates verse 24 not just as waiting with patience but says we “eagerly wait for it with perseverance”. That is what hope is.
Okay, eager perseverance, sure. But it’s a lot easier to identify with Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” If we’re hoping toward “the glory that is revealed to us” it may be a long time before we get to see the inheritance we have been promised.
In Romans 12:12 Paul tells the church to “rejoice in hope”. Proverbs 10:28 says “The hope of the righteous brings joy” (NKJV “The hope of the righteous will be gladness”). This reminds me of Romans 5:2-5 “[W]e rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” And that parallels James 1, the ”Consider it all joy…” passage. James tells us “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Hope—even when it seems like it’s all we can do to hold on by our fingernails, never mind that “eagerly” thing—produces patience, steadfastness, perseverance. And that is the process we are going through, the refiner’s fire, that will make us ready to take the place Jesus bought us as sons and heirs with Himself. And what is that like?
“’Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” (Revelation 21:3-4)
My prayer for you this month is with Paul: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
Rejoicing in hope,