A God of ‘Hope’
2 Part Study by David Niednagel, Pastor and Teacher, Evansville, IN. (David uses the S.O.A.P. method for his morning study and devotional time: study, observe, apply, pray).
Christians have always been people of hope in dark and difficult times. But what do we mean when we say we have hope? We say God is in control, and that everything will turn out OK. But does that mean that our economy will improve? That people will get back to work and to school? That racial and political tensions will resolve? Is “hope” the same as optimism?
Is optimism a Biblical quality? Was it for Jeremiah and the prophets? Sometimes, yes. But they had far more words of coming judgment than of blessing. And their words were often linked to the choices of the people of Israel. If they repented of their sin, there were promises of forgiveness and hope. If they persisted in their greed, oppression of the poor and idolatry they were assured of national abandonment by God and defeat at the hands of the surrounding nations. So what does it mean to have hope – whether now or any time in the past, or the future?
Romans 15:13 says “ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” If we trust in Him we can overflow with hope no matter the circumstances, but only because of the nature of God. He IS a God of hope! But what does that mean?
The word “hope” is both a noun and a verb. We use the verb to say “I hope it doesn’t rain today”. It is almost a synonym for “wish” but with some degree of optimism. We aren’t sure if the rain will pass us by, but we think maybe it will. The noun is stronger than merely a wish. It expresses a confident expectation that something will happen. It is not identical to faith, but similar.
Note how it is used in some passages that have nothing to do with spiritual issues:
1Cor 9:10 “whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.” When a workman is hired to do a job he/she has a confident expectation that they will be paid.
1Tim 6:17 “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” Wealthy people try to store up enough to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. But economies can crash, thieves can steal, etc, and we cannot have a confident expectation that our money will be our security. However, if God is our Father, and has provided our salvation, we can have confidence that He will supply enough for eternity.
Note that Paul commanded them the consciously put their hope in God. By an act of their will they could declare that they were no longer going to trust in their wealth, but trust God for their future. And they were to show it by using their wealth to meet the needs of people as God’s agents.
Lord, I praise You that You are a God of Hope and that I can overflow with hope no matter the circumstances if I consciously decide to trust You when conditions are scary. Help me trust you for my future, and live in a way that shows You are dependable. Amen
(Part 2 tomorrow)