“Now may the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 5:13

Being a hopeful person is a wonderful trait. My bride has often said that I am an optimist, but she is the realist. I suppose this is why we get along so well together! At least neither of us is a pessimist!

Biblical hope is a marvelous gift from God to His children. Our passage declares that He is the God of hope, He is the source of it, the reason of it and, of course, He is the cause of it! It is the duty of every believer to cultivate the grace and the habit of hope. This is even the prayer of Paul for the Roman believers—that they would abound in hope (habit) by the power of the Holy Spirit (grace). Believers are to be known as people of great hope.

The term can quickly lose its biblical meaning in our thinking when we use it in everyday life to describe nothing more than a desire. Biblically, hope is “not a hope-so, but a know-so salvation,” as preachers of old used to say.

Noah Webster did an excellent job capturing the biblical significance of the word in his dictionary entry: “(1) A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety. The hypocrite’s hope shall perish. Job 8:13. (2) Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well-founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God’s gracious promises; a scriptural sense. A well-founded scriptural hope is, in our religion, the source of ineffable happiness. (3) That which gives hope; he or that which furnishes ground of expectation, or promises desired good. The hope of Israel is the Messiah. The Lord will be the hope of his people. Joel 3:16.”

His words powerfully propound the biblical sense and meaning of hope. A believer’s habitual hope rests squarely on the grace of God’s ability and willingness to deliver. Since He is all at once the Source, the Reason, and the Cause of our hope, what have we to dread? In all the world there should be no other people who can rival the hope expressed by believers! 1 Peter 1:20f says, “[Christ]…was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” Faith is grace for today, and hope is grace for tomorrow! Peter earlier (verse 1:3ff) had said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

From where does such over-arching, over-coming, eternally resilient hope get its staying power in the humble Christian’s life? It’s well-spring is unending grace, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good work” (2 Thessalonians 2:16f). It is fortified by the Word, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). It is rehearsed and exercised in each retelling of the Gospel, “If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23). It is augmented by its integral partnership in life with faith and love, “And now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13, Romans 5:2, Galatians 5:5f).

What occupies the Christian’s hope?

  • Contemplating the work of Christ in salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:19)
  • Treasuring the return of our Lord (Acts 23:6, 24:15)
  • Counting on eternal life (Titus 1:2, 3:7)
  • Focusing on giving God all the glory (Colossians 1:27).

Are these not each what is meant by Paul in Titus 2:13f: “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works”?

While the world rests its hopes in fleeting possessions and earthbound plans (Job 31:24, 8:13, 27:8), the saints are to use their grace of hope as a tool for God. Paul calls the hope of salvation a helmet (1 Thessalonians 5:8) to be kept on in battle and worn as a part of your daily uniform and armor. Hebrews 6:19 calls hope an anchor of the soul providing assurance, stability, and grounding in the midst of every one of life’s storms. Cultivate the grace and the habit of overflowing hope for your Lord’s sake! Trust and obey.