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.Romans 15:13
Sweet. One of my favorite benedictions. I feel loved and comforted every time I hear it or read it.
How we can “overflow with hope” in the midst of a pandemic—or any crisis for that matter?
“…by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Paul says to the people of the church in Rome ~30 years after the resurrection. He knew people were going through dark and challenging times. He also knew there would be more challenging times ahead. Paul had to include the “how” to make his blessing impactful. He had to include the “how” to make his blessing, well, true!
To better understand what Paul meant by “hope,” let’s first take a look at how the word is commonly used today.
“I hope I get a good grade on my test.”
“I hope Steve asks me to the dance.”
“I hope I pass the bar exam.”
“I hope we get to go on our cruise.”
“I hope the game isn’t rained out.”
“I hope you feel better soon.”
Those examples are all future-oriented, based in large part on a strong desire. In some instances, the hope involves some action on my part. In other instances, the outcome is totally out of my control. Regardless of what I do or say (study, flirt, plan, cross my fingers, discover a four-leaf clover, wish upon a star), I can’t be certain of the outcome.
Is that the kind of “hope” Paul is referring to? Not at all.
Paul speaks with authority. Paul speaks with confidence. Paul speaks of a hope we can count on. Paul speaks of a hope that spurs us into action. Into service. Into love.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.Romans 12:11-13
With hope comes joy and faith. So that we may cheerfully serve others in need!
In his letter to Titus, Paul writes:
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.Titus 2:12-14
Paul doesn’t just define “blessed hope”; he tells us what that blessed hope inspires us to do. We are inspired “to do what is good.”
Likewise, in Paul’s letter to Timothy, he writes:
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. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.1 Timothy 6:17-18
Paul encourages us to anchor our hope in God, not in the uncertainties of this world.
How we can “overflow with hope” in the midst of a pandemic—or any crisis for that matter? We start by knowing for sure for sure that we’re empowered by the Holy Spirit to do good.
We start by being certain of God’s love for us. We proceed by sharing God’s love with others.
I’ve read one touching story after another in the past few months. People are displaying courageous acts of kindness as Covid-19 wreaks havoc upon humanity.
- What is one way you can demonstrate your love, God’s love, today?
- How can you share your blessed hope with others?
- The anchor symbolizes safety and security. For Christians, it has become a symbol of hope. How does hope help anchor you? How does hope help you be an anchor for those in need of safety, security, joy, and peace?
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.