I keep coming back to this verse from Romans as I finish reading the book this week. The word hope caught my attention, as I try to puzzle out ideas about faith, hope and love for a weekend away later this year.
God = the source of hope.
Hope is future-orientated. It's what we look forward to, what we are waiting for. So often, the way we talk about our 'hopes' is with a sense that they may not eventuate. We hope to get particular things or go to certain places or achieve established goals. Sometimes it just doesn't happen. Sometimes we keep trying and other times we just shift our sights. This is not the hope of God.
When we trust in God for our future, then we can have confident hope. We can be confident that God will take care of us, both here on earth and when we enter the place he is preparing for us in heaven. The holy spirit will remind us again and again of God's promises to seek and find us, to reconcile us to himself, to adopt us as his children, to make us part of Christ's body and work through us, to bring us to the Great City in heaven and place us among the worshipping throngs of people.
God does not make these promises lightly. He makes them as the lord of the universe who speaks and things happen. Hope in God is sure because He is trustworthy, and he is powerful to make it happen. Trust then leads on to confident hope. Trust also gives us joy and peace. Knowing our lives are in God's hands gives us an abundant contentment and a sure hope.
It's hardest to hope when things are falling apart around us. When a child dies, or when a partner leaves us. When we can't find a job or when the one we have seems to hard.
I find it hard to hope when its difficult to see God's work in the lives around me (especially mine). Maybe I don't trust that he can do things, that he will fulfill the promises he has made to rescue people. Sometimes my sin is to trust in my own wisdom for a situation, rather than looking to God and praying desperately for him to do what is needed.
Paul is praying that God will give people joy and hope, as they trust in Him. Then they will have overflowing, confident hope.