Where did we get the idea that God wants to spoil our fun by calling everything we want to do “sinful”?
Who told us that God sees everything we do only so He can punish us every time we step out of line and leave us full of regret and shame? In the Bible, God reveals Himself as the God of peace, the God of love, the God of encouragement, the God of endurance, the God of hope, and the God of all grace (Romans 15, 2 Corinthians 13, 1 Peter 5). God is the source of all good things both for today (peace, love, encouragement) and for the future (endurance, hope). And God is not stingy with His grace and blessings. Paul prayed and pronounced a benediction (good word) for his fellow believers in Rome, “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). This verse is a blessing we can still pray for one another. God desires His children to be completely spiritually satisfied and filled with complete joy and perfect peace so that His daughters and His sons overflow with hope.
Yet there are times when even the best of us struggle with a lack of joy, peace, and hope. We battle with various levels of discouragement, shame, disappointment, regret, apathy, and depression. Perhaps we suffer even more when those we love battle their own hopelessness and emptiness. In those times we desperately need a way out, and Paul’s prayer offers something better than a mere natural, man-made pleasant distraction. God promises an eternal, abundant hope that is the sweet anticipation of a wonderful future regardless of our present circumstances. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit work together to graciously give us more than we can even ask or imagine.
God the Father and His precious promises are our source of abounding hope. Our confidence in the promises of God result from what we know about the character of God and how He has lovingly cared for His people throughout history. Since the moment of creation, God has revealed Himself as trustworthy, loving, kind, compassionate, and good. God the Son is the object of our belief, producing true joy and lasting peace. If we desire to be full of joy and peace leading to overflowing with hope, we must abound in faith. The salvation we have already received and the promised complete restoration of all things are the only trustworthy foundation for a hope that will not disappoint. God the Holy Spirit supplies the power that sustains our abounding hope. No matter what anyone else promises, we should not try to find eternal hope anywhere else, even our own strength.
So how do we obtain God’s abounding, eternal, and abundant hope? First, we must recognize that half-hearted or fleeting hope does not come from God. If we have been relying on any false promises of hope, we must repent and look with faith to God. Second, while spiritual discipline is out of favor these days, the habits of prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship, caring for others, etc. remain the time-tested path to increasing hope, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and all the other characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Third, we must humbly be open and available to God’s grace. We may be surprised in the way that God chooses to increase our joy, peace, and hope. God’s timing, circumstances, trials, and blessings may not match our requests and desires, but His promise of abounding and abundant hope are as true today as they have always been and always will be, and are better than anything we can ask or imagine.