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.
How old was Paul when he wrote this benediction near the end of his letter to the Romans? How many times had he suffered rude treatment at the hands of his opponents – stonings, beatings, imprisonment, slander and deprivation? How calloused were the hands that made tents while also making disciples? How weathered was his heart, how battle-hardened his soul, how agile his mind?
This much is sure: the man knew the God of hope.
Our admiration for Paul should not arise merely from his having endured persecution for the sake of the gospel. Our admiration should arise from the knowledge that despite all that he suffered in order to fill up “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” Paul held confidently to his trust in the God of hope. More importantly, his hope in the God of hope motivated him to pray for God to fill others with joy and peace in believing so that they might abound in hope as well. At the same time, Paul assures us that the ability to abound in this hope does not depend on finding some deep inner space within ourselves, nor the silence of solitude. We are filled with joy and peace in believing by the power of the Holy Spirit who also makes it possible for us to abound, or overflow in hope.
Run your mind over that one more time: “. . . .joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” The in believing acts like a scenic outlook from which we can scan the landscape of Romans already dotted by such classic texts as –
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1
“. . . .but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” – Romans 5.8-11
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8.14-16
The same Spirit who opens our heart to receive the Word of Truth, uses that same Word to empower us to be filled with all joy and peace in believing so that by His power we may overflow in hope.
No matter our age, no matter how bruised and battered by life and circumstance, no matter how calloused our hands and heart, this much is certain: the God of hope can by the power of His Holy Spirit fill us with joy and peace in believing so that by the power of this same Spirit we may abound in hope.
Such was Paul’s confidence in the God of hope.
May it be ours as well.
You think about that.