Real hope is from God and contains His supernatural power. The world can’t destroy it because it is the work of the Holy Spirit in lives surrendered to God.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Hope, while it has the power to sustain and strength us in our darkest moments, is a frail and fragile thing when viewed only from the worldly perspective. It’s that odd little something that so strongly desires for something to happen that it creates an expectation of it. This can keep us going through all kinds of difficulties. Knowing that the light at the end of the tunnel just might not be a train will keep us hanging on or plodding on. Yet, when hope is dashed, it can be the hardest thing to rebuild or regain.
Hope is critical in life.
1 Corinthians 13:13 says: And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. This tells us very clearly that hope is an ‘essential ingredient’ in life. Whatever else we may consider important, these three things are what sustain, empower, and enable life. When we look at what hope is able to do, we can begin to grasp why it’s so important. In practical terms, hope is a powerful antidote against despair. It’s physically, mentally, and emotionally impossible to utterly give up while we have hope. We may have moments of weakness. There may be times when the weight of trial and suffering clouds and crushes our hope. But like simple cork in water, hope has an innate ability to pop back to the surface.
It’s rather like a miniature set of water wings. We may temporarily go under the wave, but the air will have us bobbing up almost immediately. It’s not the water wings that do it, but what’s in them – an invisible, intangible thing called air. We cannot see it, but that doesn’t diminish its efficacy. Hope is exactly the same. We cannot see it, we cannot measure it, and we cannot explain it, but it’s there and it works against all odds. But perhaps the greatest proof that hope is critical to life is that God has provided it. We must remember that all emotions, intellect, abilities, and capabilities have God as their source, both for believers and non-believers. Just as God sends the rain on us all, so He give hope to us all. The ability to hope is entirely instinctual. It’s wired into us like the ability to breathe. It simply is.
Worldly hope is not sustainable.
This, however, is where the similarity ends. Although the fundamental principle and purpose of hope remains the same in the world as in the spiritual realm, worldly hope is fragile. It can be broken and destroyed. The reason for this is because it’s of the world. It’s built on things in the world and is subject to the limitations of the world. While it contains the God-given ability to sustain and strengthen us, it’s finite. It cannot last forever, and unless the expectation created manifests at some point, it will wither and die. Worldly hope will, sooner or later, disappoint us, because it’s built on us rather than God.
Worldly hope is shaped on our desire that something happen. In other words, there is no realistic expectation that it will happen, though there is a chance that it might. We’ve all learned that lesson that wanting something doesn’t always guarantee receiving it. I grew up with the truth of ‘what you wants is not always what you gets.’ Though I hated it at the time, I’ve come to see that it’s an absolute, unshakeable truth we had best accept early on. The world, though encourages us to build what is essentially false hope through teachings on positive magnetism and the power of the mind. While this sets us up for inevitable disappointment, it remains a powerful and popular philosophy because it manipulates what is essentially a God-given ability but which, in the natural, excludes God as the source.
God is the only source of real hope.
It is only when we live in the hope that is both God-given and God-sourced that hope functions as it should. What sets real hope apart is that the expectation has nothing to do with us. It is entirely built on God – His nature, His character, His power, His holiness, His faithfulness, His mercy, His grace…the great I AM of the Bible. In the world, our need generates our desire, which in turn creates hope. In the spirit, however, our need turns us to God. He supplies our hope, which then generates our desire – which is to see our God-given, God-centred hope made manifest in our lives. The world has essentially reversed the divine order of God and removed Him from the process.
Logically, if anything is rooted in and built on who and what God is, its eternal. We won’t see it crushed, broken, smothered, or destroyed. It can never let us down, or disappear when we most need it. The vagaries and hardships of life have no power over it, because it’s spiritual, not natural, and isn’t subject to the rules and limitations of this world. This is because God is an eternal source. Eternal means without beginning or end. It also means past, present, and future encapsulated in a single moment. Everything that God is exists at any given time. This is the supernatural nature of real hope because God is in it.
Hope is intertwined with faith and love.
We cannot separate the hope that comes from God from the love of God. It is great love which is the foundation of our hope. Unless we have the assurance of this love, it’s worldly love. His love transcends all and has the power to save us, set us free, and resurrect us. It’s the very crux of the cross. Without the sure and certain knowledge that His love is immeasurable, no matter who and what we are, we build hope on nothing. That’s why the ‘greatest of these is love.’ It’s our reminder that the great and mighty God of the universe humbled Himself, sacrificed Himself, and gave Himself entirely to restore us to eternal life in Him. Hope based on anything else is empty and futile.
Faith is what grows from our knowledge of God and relationship with Him. It is released through intimacy. Faith is what transforms our knowledge of the love of God into active belief. It sees beyond the here and now of our circumstances to the might and power of God. When we use our faith, we connect ourselves to the supernatural nature of God where all things are possible. But it isn’t about us believing. Rather, it’s about what we believe and who we believe. Faith shifts our focus from self and puts it onto God. When we love God with all the are, when we believe utterly in His ability and will to act, we position ourselves in a place where supernatural and sustaining hope is real and infinite.
We have no control over real hope.
It’s critical to understand that the hope that is of God is beyond mortal ability. We cannot blow up our own spiritual ‘water wings.’ It is God and Him alone who releases this to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot shape it, choose, or conjure it, but only receive it by the grace of God. This is an incredibly liberating truth for us. Somehow, in the midst of our struggles, we hang on grimly, bolstering our hope with a kind of desperate determination. We feel like we must have hope in our own strength and ability. Along with this, of course, comes the guilt when worldly based hope fails. Somehow, it’s our fault, our weakness, our inferiority. It’s a vicious circle of self-condemnation and despair.
The Holy Spirit, however, works God’s will in us in perfect, eternal hope. Today’s verse provides a wonderful clue as to just how this happens. First, He gives peace. Remember, it’s the ‘peace that passes all understanding.’ It’s peace based on the knowledge of the love of God and the faith that He is who He says He is. This is why hope is impossible without faith and love. The peace of God is entirely and completely supernatural. It ignores, contradicts, defies, and transcends the things of the world. With this peace comes the joy of the Lord, which is our strength. Again, this joy cannot be limited or measured. It’s entirely supernatural, the ability to praise and give thanks even while our world collapses around us.
The world cannot crush the hope God gives.
It’s so important that we grab hold of the infinite grace of God who gives us the ‘imperishable hope.’ Knowledge of God’s love and faith in Him release peace and joy, which together, create a supernatural hope in us that the world cannot touch. It reminds us that even if the light at the end of the tunnel is a train, God already has a powerful plan in place. Real hope is built on faith, not the other way around. Because it’s supernatural, it sees beyond situation and circumstances to the power and love of God.
What is equally important is that it doesn’t automagically remove the problems. Its purpose is to strengthen and sustain us to empower us to endure to the end of whatever is happening in our lives. It’s the practical, powerful outworking of our intimacy with God. Today’s verse tells us that He is the ‘God of hope.’ But it also mentions that wonderful little word ‘abound.’ He is, therefore, the God of hope that abounds. Nothing this world can throw at us can diminish, destroy, or steal the hope that comes from and is imbued with the abundance of God.
Taking hold of the hope from God.
Human nature would very much like to complicate things, because it always makes self feel important. If it’s complicated, we can pat ourselves on the back when we finally ‘get it right.’ But today’s verse makes it very clear – hope is Holy Spirit work, and His alone. All we have to do is turn to God. Intimacy and worship is key. How much we surrender determines how much we receive. When it seems like all hell is breaking loose around us, our instinct is to hang on and fight through. But while we hang on, we refuse the Spirit access. It’s only when we lay it down in humility, acknowledging our absolute inability, that the Spirit is able to work in us to release love, faith, peace, and joy, and the hope that will see us through to the victory God has already planned for us.
Gracious Father, thank You that You take care of every single detail in our lives. Help us to bring all to You today and to lay it down. Grant us the courage to let go of those things which crush us and seek our destruction. Remind us that Your hope is powerful and eternal, and that it cannot be altered or stolen by the world. Lead us, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to a place of surrender and faith in Your love and Your will transform us, no matter what our circumstances, so that all may work to Your glory.