How can Christians have Hope & Joy?
What do you hope for? What gives you hope? The dictionary defines hope as a “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” So what does this mean? Hope is something that we want and have reason to think we will get. Hope makes people do powerful things. Helen Keller, a woman born both deaf and blind who learned to speak, once said, “Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
The Bible is full of stories of people who did crazy things motivated by hope. In fact there is a whole chapter of the Bible that documents the stories of over seventeen people who acted in amazing ways because they had confidence that what they hoped for would come to pass. This confidence is called faith. This chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11, starts by saying “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
So what did these people hope for? And why were they able to have faith and confidence in what they hoped for? Their hope was for the promises of God. These people believed God’s promises, both promises specific to them and promises made to the world as a whole. Their faith was in the character of God. They believed what God said about Himself and took His promises seriously. They took them so seriously that it changed the whole way they lived.
Noah spent over 100 years (people lived a lot longer back then!) building a boat all the while being mocked by people around him because he believed that God would bring a flood that would destroy earth. Because of his faith Noah and his family were saved from the flood that did indeed come. Abraham believed that God would give him a son even long after his wife was able to bear children. God did indeed give him a son. Hebrews 11 tells us that others stopped the mouths of lions, quenched fire, faced incredible suffering, and even were killed because of their confidence in God and his promises. They did it all and many other things because of their faith.
People today have more reason than ever before to have faith in God and his promises. Romans 8:32 says, “He [God] who did not spare his own Son [Jesus], but gave him [Jesus] up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” The Bible tells us that God sent Jesus to take our punishment and shame in our place and give us a right relationship with God. The Bible tells us that this is our greatest need. If God gave up something so precious to Him, His Son Jesus, to solve our biggest problem, our sin and shame, we have no reason to doubt his ability or desire to keep all of His promises.
And what has God promised? He has promised that he will forgive, love, restore, and honor all people who choose to believe in Him and follow Him. He has promised that He will come back to this earth again—this time to bring judgement on all who do not believe in Him. He has also promised that He will restore the world to perfection and total goodness for those who believe in Him and that He will live with them and have perfect, unbreakable relationship with them. He has promised that He is in control of everything in this world and will use all of it for a purpose.
If we believe in God, have faith in Him, and hope for His promises, we also get joy. The troubles and hurts of this world do not have the ability to touch us as they otherwise would. If we know God we can rejoice in God’s promises even when life is at its hardest.