Our Hope In Christ

Romans 15:1-13
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide WE MIGHT HAVE HOPE.
12 And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.”
13 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.

Followers of Jesus are hopeful people.

We look at the world around us and find little to be hopeful about. Our nation seems to be headed in a hundred wrong directions. Other nations embrace hatred, totalitarianism, brutality, human slavery, and disregard for human dignity.

On a personal level, we may grow despondent when our investments don’t thrive, when we don’t have as much stuff as the other guy, when our relationships suffer or die, when we can’t shed those stubborn pounds, or when we don’t feel like we’re getting ahead in this world.

Yet, in spite of so much negativity around us and even in us, we are hopeful…or at least we should be.

Why?

Simply…because of Jesus!

In the New Testament passages we just read, Paul reminds us of the reason for our hope. First, he provides the context for our hope: God, who is forever, is forever faithful and has proven His faithfulness throughout all of history. This, Paul says, should encourage us. It should verify that our faith in God is well founded. What we have learned of the faithfulness of God throughout history should make us hopeful for the future.

Then Paul makes two connections with hope which we should not overlook or dismiss. Hope, he tells us, is birthed in us by God through His Holy Spirit. In other words, the indwelling presence of God in our hearts (His Holy Spirit) is our wellspring of hope. He reminds us that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to offer hope to all mankind, even the Gentiles. His presence in us as we navigate through a wayward world and difficult circumstances offers us the assurance that we are not alone and that what we see today is not necessarily the way things will always be.

Then Paul ties trust to both our hope and our joy and peace.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him…”

So the source of your and my joy and peace is directly related to the trust we have in God to handle that which is beyond our ability to handle. We cannot save our own sins, but God sent His only Son to rescue me and you from the consequences of our sins. We cannot control or resolve every circumstance in life, but God is aware and in control of those things we cannot personally influence.

The question is, Do I trust God to do what I cannot do?

When I was 17 I had an argument with my parents. I have not one inkling of what the dispute was about but for some reason I got in our family’s little red Rambler station wagon headed down the hill from our home in Eagle River. It was winter, the roads were slick and I was driving too fast because of my anger. There was a big curve on the way down the hill and when I entered it I realized the little car was drifting into the oncoming lane. And there, coming up the hill, was a pickup truck.

In moments like those, everything shifts into slow motion and I remember feeling that my anger was why this was happening (not a punishment, but a consequence of my emotions) and how stupid and inconsequential it all was compared to what was transpiring.

Unfortunately, my little sister had jumped in the car with me as I left my house. Back then seatbelts were rarely use and neither of us were belted in.

The impact as I gripped the steering wheel caused it to bend backward toward the dash. My sister didn’t fare as well. Her face hit the windshield and, as we would learn later, her throat was crushed by the unpadded dashboard.

But even in our foolishness, God is so often with us. Two cars behind us on the hill was a doctor. His presence to stabilize my sister probably saved her life.

Shock and shame have erased some of what happened next. I don’t know how I arrived at the hospital but once there I was reunited with my parents. We sat a long vigil awaiting word on my sister’s condition as they operated on her face and throat.

In a foolish moment in time I made a decision which not only changed my life and my sister’s life, but my parents’ life. For years they endured the additional care and medical expense that was my fault. Yet, in all that time, not once, did they ever lay an iota of blame on me. I’m sure they realized how great my guilt was and chose to spare me the additional pain of their disappointment in me.

To her credit, my sister has also never told me that she blamed me for the pain and disfigurement I caused her. She still speaks with a voice that is raspy; the result of decades of wearing a tracheotomy tube in her throat. And when I see her the scar across her entire forehead is a tragic reminder of what happened.

I tell you this story to underscore this matter of trust in God. You see, here I am 50 years later and I still occasionally wake in the middle of the night, sweating and filled with remorse for something that happened when I was a kid. And I wonder if it is a lack of trust in God’s great provision for my every need that I haven’t completely gotten free of my guilt.

I can’t adequately answer that question for you, but I do truly believe Paul’s instruction; my joy and peace are inextricably tied to my trust in God.

I hope you realize that today as well.

We may become swept up in the events of our world or in our lives and lose our grip on the hope that rests in our relationship with Jesus. But we have great reason to be hopeful; to live our lives with joy and peace. God is completely trustworthy. He has kept His promise to us that He would send His Holy Spirit to abide in us. What more could we ask for than the very indwelling presence of God to see us through.

Because of God’s presence in us, Paul tells us that we should be overflowing with hope.

What does that mean?

It means that we should have more hope that we can contain. Our hope in Christ should be spilling over onto everyone we are around. Those around us should marvel at our hopefulness in the midst of difficult seasons and dreadful world events.

My prayer is that your hope will spill over into someone else’s life this week.

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