The God of Hope; April 4, 2019

Romans 15:13 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.

There are many benedictions recorded in the Bible, but this is one of the sweetest. Since few of us read the Bible in the original languages, it is often very helpful and enlightening to compare different translations. The Japanese here says, “May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace that come from faith.” Faith is not just accepting a set of statements as fact, it is active trust, as the NIV says. However, the choice to trust God indeed brings joy and peace, which are things every human being desires. This is the only place in the Bible where God is called “the God of hope,” but it is certainly not a mistaken title. A lack of hope is quite literally fatal, as many medical professionals will testify. Faith and hope are the “active ingredients” in placebos, pills taken with no chemical reason for them to affect the problem at hand, but which are sometimes surprising effective. On the other hand, the mirror of that is the much less well known nocebo effect, where negative expectations are self-fulfilling, just as positive expectations are for placebos. That’s one reason laughter is such a good medicine: it relaxes us to enable us to hope. It has been shown in many studies that patients with active faith have better outcomes in almost every case than those who lack faith, but this isn’t at all limited to medical issues. When we understand that God is love, that gives us hope that His plans for us are indeed good, (Jeremiah 29:11) which in turn enables us to trust Him when things look dark. The Holy Spirit is the active force behind all of this, just as Paul says here.

Naturally, I need to remember this as much as anyone does. I am very aware that we have an enemy who does his utmost to destroy hope, and in submission to God I need to resist him. (James 4:7) I am to remember that my reward is in heaven, (Matthew 5:12, etc.) and trust God regardless of how things look to my natural eyes. I am to be a carrier of faith and hope to those around me, which will in turn make me an instrument of joy and peace, just as this verse says. We are working on a CD entitled Living Hope, aimed at helping those who are feeling suicidal. The devil hates this project, which is why he is seeking to destroy our hope that it will ever be completed. I am to recognize his schemes and stand firm against them, knowing that this project has been planned by God and will indeed be a powerful tool of His grace and love to many. My trust is to be in God and not in any human agent, and certainly not in myself.

Father, thank You for this very timely reminder. We were praying about this in prayer meeting just last night! I do ask for clear guidance and wisdom for Cathy and me, and all the others involved, so that the completed product may be exactly as You desire and intend, coming out on Your schedule, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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