I sure hope so...

March 4, 2013

Throughout February our devotional theme will be hope. This week Dr. Christian Just shares a few thoughts on the subject. Dr. Just is a faithful friend of HCM International. He is also a pastor and a caregiver at the Formational Prayer Seminar.

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“I sure hope so . . .”

That’s a comment that can come out of a vast variety of situations:

The farmer who is asked about the prospects of rain.

The student who wonders if she passed the last exam.

The husband who is concerned about his wife emerging whole from surgery.

All too often, it is an expression of hope against hope, in which instance hope becomes equated with wishful thinking. What is being said beneath the level of the verbal is, “I really don’t think positively about this outcome, so all I have left is hope.”

But hope is not “all we have left.” Hope is where we begin. The so-called “protoevangel” (Genesis 3:15) is designed to offer hope from the outset. We do not resign ourselves to hope; we align ourselves to hope. Hope is the new orientation toward the future that comes when the Gospel reshapes our lives.

Jacques Ellul once wrote, “Hope is the same thing as remembering.” When we see the faithfulness of God constantly at work in the past, and especially in our past, we look to the future with the confidence that the same God will constantly be faithful. Hope is not wishful thinking; it is confident acceptance of God’s promises.

Hope and faith are thus linked. Hope, in Greek, is Ýëðéò (elpis); faith is ðßóôéò (pistis). They appear to be etymologically linked; even more, they are joined as part of our identity in Christ. We who walk by faith also walk in hope. St. Paul wrote, “now faith, hope, and love abide, these three” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Faith will become unnecessary when we see face-to-face; love will last into all eternity. Hope sustains us on the journey into God’s embrace.

How do we come by such hope? It is by positioning ourselves before the Holy Spirit so that He can deepen the connection with us. All the spiritual disciplines are designed to so position us. As we move with the Spirit, hope is shaped within us. “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).

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