Our Source of Hope When Life Hurts
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
I knew something was seriously wrong the moment I answered my phone. My sister-in-law choked back tears as she told me a doctor had just diagnosed my 88-year-old mother with a life-threatening condition. “She has 20 minutes to talk with each of her kids and decide whether or not to have surgery,” my sister-in-law said. Twenty minutes to choose between life or death. The clock was ticking.
When I woke early that morning, I had no reason to suspect crisis would strike my family before noon. I would never have guessed that within hours, I’d leave home to sit vigil at Mom’s bedside until she took her last breath on earth a week later.
Life is unpredictable. Last year at this time, my mother was an active senior who drove and lived independently. And none of us suspected a mystery virus was about to strike and bring division, disappointment and loss. Who could have guessed a pandemic would force us into isolation, upend our plans, throw us into turmoil and leave us longing for hope?
Life changes in a nanosecond, and it deals blows we don’t expect. It’s so easy to find ourselves in a place of despair, longing for some type of comfort. I’ve struggled too, as I’ve grieved for my mom and for the losses suffered by so many around the world.
Thankfully, in my time of grief, I’ve found Romans 15:13 to be especially meaningful: “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.”
Hope is mentioned not once, but twice in this verse. One Bible dictionary defines it as “trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Biblical hope is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God’s guidance.” This contrasts to a dictionary definition of hope as “a feeling that what we want to happen will happen.”
The first mention of hope in today’s verse refers to God as the origin of hope. We anticipate a favorable outcome not based on circumstances, but on His person. We will face disappointments or life-altering detours. We will experience the death of a dream or the loss of a loved one. But no matter how difficult our circumstances, we can have hope because of who God is: powerful, wise, sovereign and good.
God is our guide, our comforter, our rock that remains steadfast when everything around us crumbles. He’s our constant companion who has promised never to leave us, not even for a moment.
The second mention of hope refers to us as the recipients. God pours hope into us when we choose to believe He is who He says He is and that He always keeps His promises. When we do this, He gifts us not with a flimsy optimism that everything will somehow work out OK, but with a rock-solid anticipation of a favorable outcome under His guidance.
And because we live among humanity desperately seeking hope, He wants our supply to spill over and splash those around us, creating in them a curiosity to know our secret. We can’t concoct this hope in our own strength; God makes hope possible by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. Imagine — this is the same power that raised Christ from the dead! (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:19-20)
The more I meditate on Romans 15:13, the more God heals my hurting heart. He wants to do the same for you, my friend. We can hang on to hope knowing that someday, Jesus will return and set everything right. Someday, He will wipe every tear from our eyes. (Revelation 21:4) In the meantime, we can live in hope because the source of hope lives in us.
Dear God, we acknowledge You as the reason for hope. When life hurts, help us keep our thoughts fixed on the Truth about who You are. Remind us that You live in us by the power of Your Holy Spirit. And fill us to overflowing with a hope that reflects You to those around us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Psalm 39:7, “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
Write Romans 15:13 on a notecard and post it where you’ll see it often.
For what situation do you need hope today? Ask God for new insights about who He is and to show you how that applies to your circumstances.