It is by God’s great, incomprehensible, abnormal mercy that He gives us a relationship in Him through His Son. Let’s take a look at the rest of the scripture attached to this thought found in 1 Peter: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5
Besides mercy, what are some other concepts we can pull from this scripture?
I once worked with a vice president of engineering who would charge his staff $1 every time they used the word “hope.” He used to keep the dollars in a jar on his desk and would say things like, “I’m going to use all these hope dollars to pay off the national debt!” and other such comical things. His concept of hope is one that a lot of us share, that hope is a sedentary event where we just sit and wait for things to happen. This isn’t the way we like to be; we like to go out and find the root cause of problems and fix things. We have to control the problems that come into our lives and eradicate them! We know that God is good and loving and that He can take care of us and take care of these issues, but we also know that God is really busy and that He can probably use our help.
So hope is a really good thing for people who can’t take care of things themselves, but what about for us? Romans chapter 5 has the following verses, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (verses 3-5). I don’t know about you, but I’m not real crazy about the way the first sentence starts, about rejoicing in our sufferings, how does that make sense? Why would we want to rejoice in our sufferings? The answer is next, because it produces perseverance. Ok, so is producing perseverance enough motivation for me to rejoice in my sufferings? I’m not sold yet, what’s next? From perseverance, character is produced. Ok, well, character sounds like something that is worthwhile to have. I mean, character does matter, right? But that’s not the final product. After we have character, then hope is produced.
To take a more direct path, suffering and hardship in our lives lead us to develop hope. The way this scripture reads it sounds like developing hope in our lives is like eating oatmeal, it’s good for you. What’s the benefit of having hope? Well, according to Romans 5 hope does not disappoint us. I’m in favor of not being disappointed. I heard Randy Carlson on the radio years ago define disappointment as the difference between expectations and reality. So many times in our lives we are disappointed in events or people because we have higher expectations of the person or event than they actually deliver. This isn’t a problem when we put our hope in God because what He actually delivers is so much greater than anything we could expect.
It’s like going to a movie that you’ve heard great things about. Maybe the movie has your favorite actor in it, has had great reviews, won Oscars and everybody you’ve talked to says great things about it. You go into the theater with great expectations and come out feeling disappointed. You spent $3,500 for tickets, popcorn and a Coke, to see that? So is not being disappointed enough to go through sufferings for? Look at what’s next: God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Developing hope brings us closer to God who lives inside of us. God never disappoints us.
When my boys were younger they were really into BMX bikes for a while. They would ride constantly, read magazines, go to tracks when possible, and spend any money they got on upgrading their bikes. They would scan the internet and catalogs for parts that would make their bikes better and therefore themselves better riders. I remember one time in particular they ordered a really cool looking flux capacitor or something from a catalog and when they received it and opened the box the response was, “it looked bigger in the catalog.” That’s what I think about when I read these following verses about hope in Romans chapter 8: “…But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (verses 24-25). My boys had a great deal of hope and expectations in the part they were ordering, but once they received what they had hoped for, hope was gone. Once we receive the object of our hope, hope is longer in play. What we hope for as followers of Christ is an eternal relationship with God; we have that in a form now while we are living on this earth, but the relationship that we will receive when we are done with these bodies is a face to face, hand to hand, eye to eye relationship with God. And that is why these words from 1 Corinthians is true, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.(13:13).
Love is greater than faith and hope because at the end of the day, or at the end of the world, we will have the object of our hope and the source of our faith; God. We won’t need faith or hope anymore. The only thing that will remain is love in the form of our relationship with God. That’s not to minimize hope, we need it, today, tomorrow and every other tomorrow until we are with God.
Here are some encouraging words of hope that we can hold tightly to:
teach me your paths;
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
for they are from of old.
for we trust in his holy name.
even as we put our hope in you.
and young men stumble and fall;
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
"'I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
my body also will live in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
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