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.
What a beautiful benediction! I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it used in a church service; I know I’ve never used it. Likewise, “The God of Hope” isn’t a title we often hear for our Creator. Events in the world around us can certainly make us feel hopeless, and that feeling itself can be very damaging, even fatal. I don’t think anyone ever commits suicide when they are brimming with hope! Hope can be contagious. I like that Paul uses the phrase, “overflow with hope,” because that means it splashes onto those around us. Hope is closely tied to gratitude, and as Dennis Prager points out frequently, gratitude is essential for happiness. Someone who is ungrateful is not happy, and neither do they have much genuine hope. Events like the recent school shooting in Texas hit us hard, and reasonably so. That was a tragedy indeed on two scales, both that the mental illness of the perpetrator wasn’t fully recognized and acted on ahead of time, and that law enforcement didn’t get into the classroom to stop him for a full hour after the shooting started. There is indeed much evil in the world, but if we focus on the evil, we will lose our gratitude and our hope. The world was given to mankind at creation, but we turned around and gave it to the devil through sin. However, the God of Hope had a plan, and He sent His Son to take the penalty for our sins and give us the hope of eternal life. When we really grasp that, gratitude and hope will be unfailing whatever is going on around us.
This of course applies to me. The incident in Uvalde was horrible, but looking at it dispassionately, the toll was no worse than a bad weekend in Chicago, and it totally pales in comparison to what has happened in Ukraine in the past three months. I’ve got to remember that we live in a fallen world and stand firm and tall in Christ, not trying to “fix” things in my own wisdom and strength but being yielded and obedient to the only One who indeed can fix things. He might even use me for some tiny part of it! I am challenged regularly by circumstances, dealing with people and events that I would prefer to be otherwise. I’ve got to keep my focus on my Lord, walking in gratitude and hope so that it may indeed overflow to those around me, creating a “lake of hope” in the dry desert of the world, for the glory of God.
Father, thank You for this Word. You’ve given me some beautiful imagery. May it not stop with pretty words, but be worked out in the lives of many, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!