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Disciplines of Rest: Hope


In common usage today, hope is synonymous with wishful thinking. When we say that we hope, we are usually only expressing a desire: “I hope it will not rain,” “I hope I get that job,” or “I hope you won’t mind.” These desires can go unfulfilled. We can also place our hope in things that are not strong enough to sustain the weight of expectation, and our hopes may be dashed.

The Bible has a view of hope that is stronger and more certain. The virtue of biblical hope depends on the power of God, who is the focus of our hope. 

This is why Paul remained unshaken by the suffering he experienced. The decay of the created world was merely a signpost pointing to the hope of redemption (vv. 20–23). This was not wishful thinking. Paul was not “hoping” that everything would work out in the end. Rather, for Paul hope meant the certainty of resurrection and the redemption of all creation.

Hope is a discipline because we must choose to take God at His word. Importantly, though, we should note that it is not a mere act of the will. The kind of hope that Paul speaks of in these verses is strengthened by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prays for us and testifies to the truth of God’s promises within our own spirit (v. 16). The Spirit is God’s guarantee of what is to come (see 2 Cor. 1:22). As a result we can face the future with a hope that is marked by certainty.

The glorious truth is that there is no problem we face today that can separate us from the love of God. There is no eventuality that can change the course of our destiny in Christ.

Apply the Word

Poet Emily Dickinson described hope in these words: “Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tune without the words / And never stops at all.” How would you define hope? Ask some loved ones what they think it means. Then write out a biblical definition using what you have learned from today’s study.

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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