What does it mean that God is the God of hope? That’s what Paul tells us in his prayer in Romans 15:13.
He calls God the God of hope. Paul gives us a clue as he links the God of hope with joy and peace in believing. Romans 15:13 says: “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.”
To understand what Paul is driving at, you will need to understand the concept of biblical hope because it is different from what most people think of when considering the idea of hope.
In the Bible, hope is not wishful thinking. It’s not hoping you have pizza for supper or even hoping that the doctor has good news.
Biblical hope has three distinct aspects that make it different from the human idea of wishful thinking.
First, biblical hope is a confident expectation. Second, that confident expectation in placed in God alone, not science, technology, evolution, progress, human nature, the government, or anything else. The third aspect of biblical hope is that it is long-term.
Hope in the Bible takes a long-term view of God at work in the world and specifically in your life.
There is a real sense that hope in the Bible points you to the outcome instead of your current circumstances. This concept has far-reaching consequences in today’s society of instant gratification.
It has always been hard to see how God might work things out in the future, and it is not getting any easier. Hoping in God for the future can be impossible when your thoughts are focused solely on the present.
But the Bible encourages you to focus your hope on the end. The Intervarsity Press New Dictionary of Christian Ethics defines hope, in its broadest sense, as a positive attitude or disposition toward the future. This attitude helps you to change how you view the present.
A lack of long-term hope, leads to despair. And despair is an emotion that is hard to control. That’s why Paul’s prayer is such a good reminder today.
When you pray and ask God to fill you with joy and peace in believing, you are speaking to the God of hope. He has yesterday, tomorrow, next week, next year, and forever in His hand. That means you don’t have to give in to despair. Instead, God calls you to ask for joy, an emotion of great happiness.
This kind of joy is possible even in the middle of great trials when you set your hope in the one who holds the future. Ask for peace in believing. Again, this is a steadfast belief that God has the end under control.
There is one last reminder in this prayer that Paul writes. None of this is possible when you try to accomplish it by your power. So, Paul tells you to ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to make all this possible.
Ask for the Holy Spirit to fill you, by His power, with joy and peace so that you may abound in hope. What Paul is asking for in this prayer is not a dash of hope. But, abundant hope that is plentiful and exists in large quantities.
It is a hope that fills you until you overflow. Are you weary today or prone to despair? If you are, then take this prayer to the Lord. He will listen, He will answer, because He is the God of hope.