Hope. Equal to faith, second only to love (1 Cor 13:13). This interior dimension to our existence is crucial. I have underestimated its importance in my experience, the lives of others and my theology. To put it another way, hopelessness is alive and well. I know its insidious power in my own soul and I see it in those around me. Hope is a need. It’s on the same footing as faith. Just as I need faith, I need hope. You do too.
There are many entry points to a discussion on hope from Scripture, I have chosen one verse that opens a window into its source and even its mechanics. The text is Romans 15:13. In the context Paul is urging both Jew and Gentile to welcome one another based upon the hospitality of God in Christ…the good news of a Savior for all, without distinction. In that flow comes this prayer for all Roman believers.
“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.”
There are a number of observations that can be made from this passage on hope…all very important for both our thinking and experience. We need hope. We know hopelessness. This is God’s word to us on the source of our hope and the means of experiencing it.
- The God of hope is the source of all hope. The Trinity is by nature hope-giving. This is critical to any and all discussions on hope—it all ultimately flows from God himself. We would do well to think through how each person of the Trinity is committed and passionate in providing us hope.
- Joy and peace are connected to hope as the experience that flows from the God of hope. The text makes this link clear, where there is hope there is also joy and peace.
- Believing is the mechanism that connects us to hope. In the context, it is a believing of the gospel of hope found in Scripture that ultimately links us to the God of hope.
- The Holy Spirit is explicitly identified as the power of hope, the one who brings the experience of hope within. He is the one who connects us to our objective hope without, that is Christ himself and the gospel we believe.
- Abounding in hope is the result of the text, it is the aim of the God of hope for us as we believe the gospel of hope which is worked into us by the Spirit of hope.