Hope which abounds is a wonderful thing. The apostle Paul explains hope this way; “let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Faith, love, and hope are a formidable spiritual trio! When the Holy Spirit infuses these within you, your whole world changes; your focus becomes fixed firmly on the Lord Jesus Christ with all else becoming secondary. Hope starts at the cross. Salvation is the beginning of authentic and eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
Hope can exist in both the saved and unsaved alike, although the focus of both is different. For the believer, hope is focused in a person; and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul acknowledged that the Thessalonians were known for their “work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Therefore, the present outcome of hope for the believer is of secondary importance, giving preference to the person of their hope.
For the unsaved however, their hope is focused in things, human relationships, and favourable outcomes to circumstances, wealth, possessions, or maybe achieving personal goals. Solomon sums up the result of mortal hope which unbelievers have; “…his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too” (Proverbs 11:7). Mortal, worldly hope lacks the ability to deliver anything beyond the grave.
That said; believers often struggle with two perplexing issues when suffering difficulties. Job speaks of the first; “Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfil my hope” (Job 6:8). Sometimes God’s children feel as if their prayers are unanswered or somehow overlooked, especially during painful periods. One of the challenges with prayer is that we invariably have expectations of God. So, when He does not respond the way we expect, we create our own struggle.
Second; when we don’t feel the positive emotions expected during life’s trauma, we can become despondent. These emotional shortfalls are often amplified by society’s focus on comfort. Our culture justifies complaining when discomfort occurs. Frequently discomfort is interpreted as being wrong or even evil.
This mindset is exacerbated by only thinking of pain as negative, destructive, and of no value. Therefore, it’s often concluded that discomfort must come from our arch enemy. This line of thinking is quite wrong; it’s unproductive, self-destructive, and dishonouring of God.
Listen to how Paul prayed for the essence of genuine hope to be active in the lives of the Roman believers. “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” (Romans 15:13).
- God is not only the source of spiritual hope; He is the essence of hope, with His Son Jesus Christ being the embodiment of hope.
- Hope has the capacity, by Holy Spirit power, to fill you. That is, to be the controlling influence.
- Controlling hope is able to overshadow pain, fear, and doubts, with joy and peace. This occurs through the God gifted mechanism of belief. Believing is an intelligent, and conscious, faith choice.
- The Holy Spirit instills hope which abounds. That is, hope energised by the Holy Spirit has the capacity to be better than, and to overrule the pains of life.
- This happens as you “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16).
I encourage you to seek authentic hope which abounds above the pains of life, in Christ.