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:
‘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.