A Certain Hope in Uncertain Days: 30 Days of Hope-filled Focus
Day 5: The God of Hope
Romans 15:13, “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.”
In the novel, “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., an important book comes to light. It is entitled, “What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?” The chief character in his book is anxious to read it, but when he does, he finds that it doesn’t take long. The whole book consists of one word, “Nothing.” Even if man had existed for a million years—which he hasn’t—apart from God’s intervention there would be no legitimate reason or basis for hope (Cf. Ephesians 2:12).
But God would have HIs people to be filled with hope. Because of Him they have good reason to be even amidst troubling times. Romans 15:14 constitutes a prayer by the Apostle Paul for the readers of his epistle. It is a prayer that we might “abound in hope.” Hope, as the term is used in Scripture, refers to a confident expectation in an unseen, future, reality.
Confident expectation regarding the believer’s favorable future is availed to him by the God of hope. God is both the source and giver of hope. God Himself—who declares “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10)—has no need of hope. He who “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11), knows already what will come to pass. Hope is a creature need. Unlike God, we live and exist in the realm of uncertainty. We lack the ability on our own to foresee or dictate the future. Confidence regarding a favorable future must be ministered to us from One who has the power and ability to achieve that which is hoped for. The God of hope is favorably disposed towards His children and is absolutely trustworthy in all that He has promised (Cf. Romans 15:4). He is our reason for hope (Cf. Lamentations 3:21-24).
God is able to fill His children with hope. The Holy Spirit indwells every child of God. Jesus called Him the Helper (parakletos, lit. “called to one’s side”). Preeminent amongst His many tasks, is His ministry as Helper, is His work in directing our hearts “Christ-ward” (Cf. John 16:13-14). It is in Jesus Christ that we find “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” It is He who has caused us to be “born again to a living hope” through HIs resurrection (Cf. 1 Peter 1:3). It is He who constitutes, in His imminent return, the “blessed hope” of the believer (Cf. Titus 2:13). As the Spirit of God works to apply the Word of God to our hearts (Cf. Romans 15:4), He ministers confident expectation regarding all that which God has prepared for us.
God’s desires that we “abound in hope.” The word “abound” translates a Greek term meaning “to be abundantly furnished, to abound in a thing” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of OT and NT Words). It is elsewhere used of the fragments left over after the feeding of the multitude (Cf. John 6:12-13). In this context the term speaks of an overabundance of confident expectation. It is in the present tense and therefore pictures God’s saints as continually abounding in Spirit-imparted hope.
J B Phillips paraphrases this prayer of Paul this way, “May the God of Hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant and alive.” Is your outlook “radiant and alive? By the Spirit it can be. These are troubling times. “Out in the highways and by-ways of life, many are weary and sad.” God would have us to “carry the sunshine where darkness is rife.” He desires for us to be filled with this kind of hope to such an extent that others would see it in us and wonder why we have it (Cf. 1 Peter 3:15). Because of our relationship with the God of hope we have good reason to abound in hope.