Tag Archives: joy

Someone To Give Us Hope

Why Jesus is My Hero #36 of 52

I’ve been thinking a lot about joy recently, and about hope. I’ve realised that the New Testament talks a lot about joy and about rejoicing, and yet it doesn’t really register as a concept in my consciousness very often. And it’s linked very closely with the idea of our hope. Take this passage from Romans, for instance:

“Isaiah says,

‘The root of Jesse will come,

even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;

in him will the Gentiles hope.’

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.” (Romans 15:12-13)

God is described as “the God of hope”. That should give us a clue that it’s an idea God considers pretty important – that it’s somehow bound up with his very identity. Paul’s prayer is that the Romans would be filled with joy and peace as they believe the gospel, so that they abound in hope.

So what’s going on here? Firstly, I think it’s important to establish what kind of hope we’re talking about. He doesn’t mean a vague and fluffy kind of ‘hope’ – “I hope it won’t rain today”, when what we really mean is “it looks as though it probably will rain today, and that would be a shame”. When Paul talks about hope here, he means the sure and certain confidence of something that’s in the future – the hope of Romans 5:5: “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” We abound in hope as we grow in our confidence that Jesus really will return and deliver those who trust in him from our bondage to decay – that a day is coming when we will be conformed to his image as we assume our resurrection bodies in the presence of God the Father.

Hopefully you can see why that would be tied up with a sense of joy and peace in the present! No matter what trials we face in the present, no matter how conscious we are of our sinfulness and our halfheartedness and of the challenges that are bound to confront us on the journey, if we know where we’re headed and we trust the one who’s going to bring us there, we can rejoice in our sufferings now. We can have peace about our situation. There is an end in sight! It doesn’t mean we’re glib in the face of real hardship – it doesn’t mean we smile and laugh as though everything is fine when really nothing could be further from the truth. But it means we know that suffering won’t get the last laugh, that our trials aren’t forever. That God really is good, even when it’s hard to imagine what he could possibly be up to.

So as we struggle with the challenges of today, I’m realising more and more how God calls us to respond with joy. To give thanks for the gospel afresh, to remind ourselves of the glorious future that awaits us in the New Creation, and to rejoice that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Finding Lasting Satisfaction

Why Jesus is My Hero #32 of 52

All of us have some vision of what we think will make us happy. We’re all working towards something. Maybe it’s that dream job that we think will leave us feeling fulfilled which gives us a sense of purpose; maybe it’s a relationship that we’re in or wish we were in – we look to that person to satisfy our deepest desires; maybe it’s the clothes we wear or the new kitchen we dream of. We yearn for something more than we currently experience, and we look in all kinds of places to satisfy that longing within us.

Jesus speaks of this search for joy in John’s gospel, and he gives some wise counsel: “Do not labour for the food that perishes”. Ultimately, none of these things we’ve mentioned will last. The job gets boring or we get fed up with the deeply ingrained politics of the office; the person we cherish lets us down or goes away; the clothes we buy go out of fashion or get holes in them. Even the most sumptuous banquet runs out, or come back to it a week later and it’s all gone mouldy. You certainly need to eat again the next day, no matter how much you ate. Don’t invest all your energy seeking after food that’s just going to perish and leave you wanting more, says Jesus. Instead, labour “for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” Jesus offers us a food that will never run out – food which will leave us feeling satisfied for all eternity.

What is this bread? Jesus tells us a few verses later: “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world … I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

There is one relationship which we’d be right to invest all our hopes in – one man who will never let us down or forsake us. The one thing that will truly satisfy us is that for which we were created – to know and love Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Everything else we long for is designed to point us towards that greater reality.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

A good meal can keep you going for a few hours. A good pair of trainers can protect your feet from blisters. But nothing on this earth can guard against our eventual death. Yet Jesus says that people who feed on him – people who find their satisfaction, their joy, their delight in him – well those people will never truly die. They will be raised again to new life with Jesus in the New Creation and enjoy an eternity in relationship with their Creator.

May God forgive us for our short-sightedness and idolatry. We settle for second best so easily. As C.S.Lewis described it, we’re like children who prefer to keep playing with our mud pies in the back garden because we don’t know what it is to have a holiday by the sea side. The bread of life that will truly satisfy us is on offer, completely free of charge, and instead we labour after junk that will perish in no time at all.

Jesus said “Do not labour for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” May God give us grace to listen to him.