When Jews complete their Passover feast each year, they promise each other “next year in Jerusalem.” They are hopeful that they will be able to celebrate the Passover in the land of their ancestors and it will have special meaning for them. They are expressing one kind of hope; a hope that is wishful thinking. When 1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love … is always hopeful,” it is expressing Biblical hope. This is the kind of hope that knows something will happen in the future and waits for it in expectation. Like Mary waited for the Messiah. Like Jesus’ followers wait for His return. It’s going to happen. We just need to wait for it without losing hope.
Father Abraham is a great example of Biblical hope. Romans 4:18 & 19 says, “Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, ‘That’s how many descendants you will have!’ And Abraham’s faith did not weaken.” Physical evidence didn’t keep him from waiting in expectation. It didn’t matter that he and his wife were too old to conceive children. When he heard God speak, Abraham knew his voice, and he believed in hope.
“We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)” (Romans 8:23b-25) Like in Abraham’s case, circumstances may not seem hopeful in our world today. It seems times are becoming more and more difficult and even evil. These are not reasons to give up hope. If we have heard Jesus’ voice and believe the promises in His word, we can wait with confidence for Jesus to come and make all things right.
Being hopeful is part of agape love. When we relate to others secure in our faith and waiting with confidence for Jesus to fulfill all He has promised, we are free really to love others as we are instructed in Romans 12:9-13.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Only confidently hopeful people are empowered by the Holy Spirit to love like this.
How sad for those who don’t know hope. “Hope is one of the most distinctive marks of the Christian life in opposition to the hopelessness of the Gentile world.” (Zodhiates; The Complete Word Study Dictionary; pg 571) Ephesians 2:12 describes the people all around us. “You lived in this world without God and without hope.” People all around us don’t know God and are living hopeless lives.
At the close of 2017 and the start of the New Year 2018, let’s purpose to be hope spreaders in our world. Circumstances all around us are so difficult; illness, wars, poverty, division, hatred, estrangement. I can’t imagine how painful it would be to bear up under all these without God’s agape love filling us with hope. People all around are waiting for a glimmer of hope. Can we be the ones who are so filled with his hope we have enough to overflow and share hope in love with them? I’m starting a new resolution and a new hashtag for 2018: #overflowwithhope. I want the world to know they can have the hope they’re waiting for.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Jenny knows what it's like to hope when it hurts. Check out her new website http://jennylindconlee.com