May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Hope. Easy to say, harder to do.
I always have wondered how we get hope.
If I’m feeling a little hope-less, how do I go about getting more – or how do I become more hope-full?
The word hope is actually not used that many times in the New Testament, believe it or not, only 54 times, and none of those in the Gospels. (and only 32 more times if you add in the Hebrew equivalent in the Old Testament).
The word used in the New Testament is elpis (pronounced el-peace) from the root elpo. This word translated literally means “an expectation of something good.”
Read that again.
An expectation of something good.
Not just thinking maybe, perhaps something good… but expecting it.
I think we use the word hope like what we are asking for is not a given.
We say things like: “I hope so!”
and: “fingers crossed, hoping for the best!”
But that’s not actually what the word means.
It means there is an expectation that good is going to happen.
Not potential of good, but expectation of good.
So then at the root of hopelessness is the fear, or the belief, that good things cannot and will not happen to us.
Sometimes we really feel this way.
We cry out to God to stop,
please don’t let me take one more hit,
I can’t take another piece of bad news,
and as we wonder how on earth we are supposed to manage, we start to buy into the belief that maybe good things really won’t come to us.
And I get it, and I’ve been there, but let me say this loudly and clearly today:
THAT IS NOT TRUTH.
God has promised to give us GOOD things.
In Matthew 7, Jesus is talking to his followers about just this:
7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. … 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
For those of us who have kids, it’s hard to imagine them asking for something to eat and giving them a rock. Right? And, Jesus says, we are sinful, we are human, we are NOT GOD. So if it is possible for US to give good things to our children, imagine the good things GOD is going to give you.
This is where hope comes from.
Not from some magic formula that we can use to get more hope when we’re feeling empty… but from God, who has promised to give us good things.
Hear that today.
Believe that you are God’s beloved child.
Trust that God will keep his promises, and expect good things.
That is hope.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)