That you may overflow with hope

Romans 15--13

The Scriptures remind believers that we are in what some say are “these last and evil days.” As 1st Thessalonians also speaks of “perilous times” or “times difficult to deal with” that shall come. Indeed, these dark and difficult days are here. As we confront the darkness and overwhelming despair, we must position ourselves to move in the opposite spirit or go in the opposite direction. To counter the toxic effects of the deadly element of despair, we must take a double dose of our antidote which is hope. The Verse of the Day for March 18, 2016 reiterates this message:

Romans 15:13 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God, our Father, who is the God of hope, not only fills our lives with joy and peace, but He fills us to overflowing with hope, reminiscent of the words of the Psalmist who declares our cups overflow with goodness and mercy. Without question, we have been given us “a lively hope” which is rendered as “a living hope” in other translations, while the New Living Translation states that because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, “Now we live with great expectation.” Indeed, “the expectation of a future good” is one definition of hope. As Christian believers we go to the Word of God where we discover what else God says about hope.

The Psalmist offers this marvelous reminder:

Psalm 71:5

For you are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence.

Hope counteracts thoughts of despondency, when we recognize that hope is a joyful and confident expectation. Though we are confronted with challenges on every hand, even in the face of death itself, we still have hope:

2 Corinthians 1:9-10

Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

Jesus Christ is described as our “blessed hope,” and because of Jesus Christ’s victory over sin, sickness and even death itself, we have hope that lives eternally. In thinking about our eternal hope, I remember lines from one of Emily Dickinson’s poems that described hope in a particularly intriguing way, and the opening lines serve as the title and epigraph for this poem:

“Hope is the thing with feathers. . .”

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
And sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.”

We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.

But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

Romans 8:24-25 [New Living Translation]

As a rare exotic bird, arrayed in brilliant plumes,
Hope rises as a phoenix, a many-feathered thing:
As a lark ascending at sunrise sings on the wing
A melody that fades but then suddenly resumes,
So Hope conveys a message without a single word.
This glorious song of Hope will take us to the place where
Golden notes provide escape from any fowler’s snare:
The tune lingers to remind us that we, too, have heard
Heavenly harmonies in our innermost ear.
Perched in the depths of our soul, Hope has found a new home.
The songbird prepares our heart to receive what is to come.
While we wait in patience, God’s presence is ever near.
In these times of darkness and despair we will recall
And listen to hear Hope’s song that never stops at all.

In actuality the Verse of Day is part of the benediction that closes the Book of Romans. In a similar way, we close our blog entry with Cheri Keaggy offering a musical rendition of Romans 15:13 (Benediction Song):

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