S41P2 – The joy of the Lord: hopeful

Rom. 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There are many things that all people have in common regardless of faith or spiritual opinion.  One of those things is the characteristic of being forward-looking.  We believe that today is not all that there is, and we expect that something will be coming tomorrow.  For some people, the idea of what lies ahead can bring anxiety because they do not know the future.  For others, even knowing some of what is to come does not relieve the tension of any remaining unknowns.  The truth is that we can know only a very small portion of what the future holds.  The question is what we do about the rest.  For those who have found the joy of the Lord, they view the future with hope and anticipation.  This hope, however, extends beyond the promises that God has made us explicitly. 

The scriptures include many concrete assurances by God of what we can expect in our future when we come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  They also have some general promises that do not touch on specific events or times.  When we walk in the joy of the Lord, we have hope in these but not only these.  One other thing that gives us hope is the mere character of God.  Knowing that He is loving and just and holy means that we have wonderful things in our future with him.  In fact, experiencing his joy during our time here is really just a glimpse of what lies ahead after the current Earth and heavens have been renewed.  There is incredible hope in knowing what He has in store for us considering the amazing things that He already brings us in this imperfect place.  Imagine what God has waiting for us once perfection comes!

It is impossible to separate the individual benefits that we receive from God’s joy.  The hope that it brings is part of the strength that we get because it is our hope for God’s promise of victory that makes us strong enough to persevere.  Hopelessness tells us that if any change is ahead, it will be one for the worse.  Hopelessness makes us want to stay in bed because we have no expectation of blessings coming our way today.  Hopelessness questions every good thing.  God’s hope, as manifested through his joy, assures us that the future is not conditional on the present and that things are not always as they appear.  God’s hope tells us that there is more, and it is good.  Father, thank You for the hope that You impart to us through your joy, and teach us to look forward to every day in You.