Today, I’m coming back to the bit of the bible that I started to write about yesterday; a book written by Paul, who knew what it was for things to go badly. He has a few things to say about hope, and the part I am looking at begins with these words:
‘Rejoice in hope’
Another translation puts it like this ‘Be cheerfully expectant’ ( the Message).
This tells us a lot about what Paul thinks ‘hope’ is, because it would make no sense if he thought hope was about wishful thinking and future possibilities. How can you rejoice in something that may not even happen? Pre-emptive celebration isn’t something we usually do.
The hope that Paul is writing about, and the hope that I trust in, is something that already exists. It is the promise of God’s Kingdom. It is the promise of the future reign of justice, truth, mercy and peace. It is the promise that there is something, someone who is greater than all the darkness that currently inhabits our world. It is the historically verified fact that a man called Jesus, who said that he was God, lived in 1st century Palestine, and like it or not, seemed to actually come back to life after crucifixion. If you believe what the bible says, and are persuaded that Jesus was real, and did what the bible says he did ( much of it written about in contemporary historical accounts outside of the bible) then the things we ‘hope’ for have already taken place. They are objective realities which exist.
I noticed when I read this for the first time that Paul doesn’t say ‘believe in hope’ or ‘trust’ in hope. He says rejoice; celebrate; be happy. I don’t know about you but when I start to be thankful, or grateful, or delighted by things everything becomes easier and better. I quickly realise how much I have to rejoice about, both right now and in the future, and perspective changes. I think that is what Paul is encouraging us to do. He is suggesting that we don’t just acknowledge the hope we have but that we choose to be happy and grateful for it. He wrote elsewhere that he had learned to be content in all circumstances and perhaps this was the key to it.
Two days ago I wrote about how miserable I was feeling. I certainly wasn’t rejoicing in hope. I was believing in hope and trusting in hope, but there was no ‘cheerful expectancy’. I am really impressed by Paul that he managed to be like that, so please don’t think I’m advocating something which I have got sorted! As I write this, however, I’ve real joy because God has shown me things in the past 2 days which have changed so many things. I will write more about that over the next few days, but I just wanted to say that I am not writing this from a place of having it all together, but from a daily realisation that God is here, and a belief that the promises of a future and a hope are true.
So today, remember the hope that you have and let it bring you joy.
This is part of a series 50 Days of Hope to end the year. Hope has been my word for the year and it has brought me on a remarkable journey. In this series I am looking at the mentions of hope throughout the bible and I will continue to share about my own journey after the end of a relationship to someone I wasn’t married to. I am delighted that a few fellow writers will also be contributing their verses of hope to the series. If you want to make sure you don’t miss a post you can subscribe to the blog or ask for email notifications of posts, or join the Facebook community.