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Like many people, I spent the last few days trying to assimilate the rapidly-evolving directives regarding Covid19. One day it seemed enough to simply practice good hygiene and stock the larder, so I got on a plane to my next speaking engagement. Within hours of my arrival the picture had changed. Schools were shutting down, flights were cancelled, large gatherings were banned. Needless to say, the event was cancelled and I spent another day negotiating new flights and braving airports while wondering if I should be driving instead … trying to touch nothing, especially my face … fleeing an enemy that can’t be seen.
Through it all, Romans 15:13 came repeatedly to mind:
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.
Things may well get worse before they get better. Already I know people who have lost work and have no reserves to hold them through; people stranded overseas; people who had to close up shop and wonder if and when they’ll reopen. Soon, no doubt, I’ll know people who get sick. Who maybe don’t recover. Perhaps one of those people will be me or someone I love. But God ….
Our God is nothing if not “the God of hope” as St. Paul called him in that verse I can’t shake. What does that mean, to be “the God of” something … “the GOD of hope”?
- Hope comes from God. He’s in charge of hope.
- God is where we go for hope, and true hope comes from nowhere (and no one) else.
- Our God is the reason we have hope at all.
Not only that, we can “abound” in hope. God is not stingy with his gifts. He doesn’t just pour a little on to ease the fear, he can fill us up to the point that we abound in hope. Abounding hope is not just adequate for our need, it pours out to others.
So what’s the catch? Well, not a catch exactly, but we do have a part to play. We can’t manufacture hope ourselves, but the Holy Spirit pours it into those who believe. Faith in God – in who he is, and in what he has done, and in all he has promised us – opens us up to receive that “peace that passes understanding” and the supernatural joy that allows us to face trials with … you guessed it: HOPE. (See Philippians 4:7, John 14:27, and James 1:2 for more on this.)
We Christians should be the most hope-filled and joy-filled people around. Why? Because we have the ultimate reason for hope. A Christian without hope has forgotten that Jesus overcame death and is walking with us toward eternal blessing and joy.
Maybe it’s no coincidence that the impact of coronavirus is first hitting us during Lent. Let’s take advantage of the forced isolation to spend time with the Lord. To ask him to renew our appreciation of his Sacrifice and all it means for us now, as we live our lives in a world where so much is uncertain and tends toward chaos and death. Let us enter his desert and turn our thirsty hearts to him to be filled.
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 — and so that in abounding, your hope will overflow to the hopeless around you.
Grace and peace,
© 2020 Sarah Christmyer
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