Hope is a powerful desire deep within every human being. All of us hope for the better, the good, the resolution of tension and difficulty. All of us anticipate and work for the betterment of our own conditions and those of the ones we love. Hope is such an important part of the human make-up that its loss is devastating and often fatal. When a human gives up hope, or has enough of their hopes dashed, all meaning and purpose to life can slip away.
In Romans chapter 8 Paul speaks of the Christian’s hope of the glory of God and the kind of hope we have in a broken world. If the glory of God is far greater than the suffering and pain in this world (vs. 18), then what does it mean to hold onto the hope of this glory in a decaying and difficult world?
First of all, it is undeniably true that we groan under the weight of this world. “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (vs. 23) And though we groan, we do not suffer meaninglessly; we have the foretaste of the glory of God living and breathing in us. We have the firstfruits now of the feast of God’s glory to come because the children of God have been given the Spirit of God. We know there will be complete forgiveness because the Spirit is at work forgiving now. We know there will be a complete transformation of the human soul because the Spirit is at work transforming now. We know there will be a complete healing of body and soul because the Spirit is at work healing body and soul now. We know the feast is coming because we are eating the appetizers.
And into this hope, Paul says, you were saved. (vs. 24) We were given a firm and true hope when we became children of God.
False hope is a dangerous and manipulative tool. Because every human being is built to hope, there are people and ideologies that will play on that hope and destroy lives, draining them of every effort and energy in order to get their way. These people and ideologies promise the world and simply do not have the power or intelligence to make good on their promise. In false hope, human lives are utterly ruined.
But the hope of God is founded on the truth and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When you were saved you exchanged all the snake-oil of this world for the truth of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. His kingdom will come and his will will be done on earth just as it is in heaven, and followers of Jesus Christ partake in that kingdom here and now. Just as false hope ruins lives, the true hope of Jesus Christ restores them. It gives meaning and redemption even in suffering and pain. It provides the taste of the glory of God in a world that causes so much groaning.
It is true that we “wait for it with patience,” (vs. 25) but we can wait in truth and security because we know the power and the glory of God. God has not orphaned us here in this world – He has sent his Spirit to be a Counselor, Teacher and Guide, and even the firstfruits of the glory of the kingdom of God.
Lose every hope you have in the people and structures of this world. Do not lose your hope in the truth and the power of the kingdom of God. For you were given this hope when you became a child of God.