The God of Hope
Bible Reading: Romans 15:1-13
My first car was a 1952 Plymouth Station Wagon. It was a beast of a vehicle, with a flathead 6 engine, a 3 speed on the column, and a top “safe” speed of about 60 miles per hour. The one thing it didn’t have was a working fuel gauge, so unsurprisingly, on more than one occasion, I ran out of gas. That happened once at the entrance to the high school I attended. Kind of embarrassing! We humans don’t come with “hope gauges,” but if we did, what would we see? I’ve personally run out of gas, so to speak, when it comes to hope. Have you ever felt so discouraged, the only word left in your prayer vocabulary is “help!” I’ve been there, and thankfully God responded to my plea.
God longs for His people to be filled with hope. Because of His lovingkindness, we have good reason to be, even amidst our troubles. Romans 15:13 constitutes a prayer by the Apostle Paul, a beautiful prayer, that we might “abound in hope.”
A confident expectation regarding the believer’s favorable future is given to us 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), will frame the future according to His plan. Hope is a creature need. Unlike God, we live and exist in the realm of uncertainty. On our own, we lack the ability to foresee, or dictate the future. Confidence regarding a favorable destiny must be ministered to us from One who is faithful, who has the power and ability to achieve that which is hoped for. He is our reason for hope (Lamentations 3:21-24).
God is able to fill His children with hope. The Holy Spirit indwells every born again believer. Jesus called Him the Helper (parakletos, lit. “called to one’s side”). Preeminent amongst His many tasks as the Helper is His work in directing our hearts “Christward” (John 16:13-14). It is in Jesus Christ we find “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” It is He who caused us to be “born again to a living hope” through His resurrection (1 Peter 1:3). It is He who has become, in His imminent return, the “blessed hope” of the believer (Titus 2:13). As the Spirit of God–the “Spirit of Promise” (Ephesians 1:13, KJV)–works to apply the Word of God to our hearts (Romans 15:4), He ministers a confident expectation in Christ regarding all He has provided and prepared for us. He works to turn our eyes upon Jesus. And in Him we find hope!
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). It is elsewhere used of the fragments left over after the feeding of the multitude (John 6:12-13). In this context the term speaks of an overabundance of confident expectation! It is in the present tense and because of that, pictures God’s saints as continually abounding in Spirit-imparted hope.
J B Phillips paraphrases Paul’s prayer 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 gives us the ability to “carry the sunshine where darkness is rife.” He desires for us to be filled with this kind of hope to such an extent others will see it in us and wonder where we got it (1 Peter 3:15). In the God of hope we have good reason to be filled to overflowing with hope! Take some time to pray this beautiful prayer for yourself and others.
No Matter Your Troubles, The Spirit Can Work to Fill You With Hope
Heavenly Father. We praise You as our God of hope! Regardless of our situation or circumstance, there is a plentiful supply of hope sourced in You. Forgive us for our sinful tendency to try to find hope in worldly ways and in worldly things. May we ever look instead to You, that by the power of the Spirit our hearts might be filled up to overflowing with all joy and peace and the certain hope of Your promised future blessings. May Your hope abound within us, that others might wonder as to where it has come from and look to You for salvation. Amen!