We use the word “hope” frequently in our conversations. Here in Northern Ireland the weather is always a topic of conversation, and at this time of year you will hear some people saying, “I hope it snows,” while others say,“I hope it doesn’t!” But we also use hope in more serious conversations, like, “I hope you pass your exam” or, “I hope you get good news from the doctor.” I’ve also answered difficult questions about the future from young kids with, “I hope so” or, “I hope not.” We are not in control of the outcome and so we hope that events will turn out the way we or others want them to. We hope because we cannot be sure, we cannot change what will happen. 

However, when we read the word “hope” in the Bible, it isn’t wishful thinking that things will turn out okay. When our hope is in God we can rejoice, because we can be sure that what God has said will happen, will happen! The first two verses of Romans 5 tell us that, because of Christ, we are declared righteous, have peace with God, and access to grace. We rejoice in the hope of God’s glory!

Our hope is sure and steadfast because of who our hope is in. Our hope is in the One who made all things, is in control, is powerful and able to do miraculous things, who knows us, seeks our good, and keeps His promises. As Joshua said to all the people of Israel in Joshua 23:14, “Look, today I am about to die. You know with all your heart and being that not even one of all the faithful promises the Lord your God made to you is left unfulfilled; every one was realized—not one promise is unfulfilled!” 

Throughout the Bible, God keeps His promises, even when His people do not. At Christmas we especially remember God fulfilling His promise to send the Messiah, His promised rescuer, into the world to redeem us.

This could lead us to think, “If God is in control and powerful, then His followers should not face hardship, difficulty, or suffering. Surely the best for us is not to go through these circumstances!” Romans 5:3 reminds us, “Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings.” You read that correctly. We, as Christians, can rejoice in suffering! How is that possible? The following verses in Romans 5 show us what is produced in us through our suffering: endurance, character, and hope. As we rely on God we receive the love poured out on us through the Holy Spirit. We reflect Jesus to this fallen world of sin and suffering, pointing others to Him. 

Jesus warned His disciples that they would also suffer: “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you. Remember what I told you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:18-20).

The missionary Dr. Helen Roseveare suffered greatly for being a follower of Jesus. In her final book, Count It All Joy, she wrote, “As I trust Him and seek to live in Him and for Him, then I can assuredly know that nothing will be allowed to touch my life by accident or coincidence. God is in control, and in fulfilment of His will – on a larger canvas than I can see – everything big or little that comes into my life is part of His purpose. That is utterly amazing!  He offers me the privilege of being part of His purpose, part of His plan, moment by moment. So I can think of everything that comes as a privilege! Whether it seems hurtful or joyful, whether I think I can see a point in it or not, ALL is privilege. The next step, if that is so, is that I can say – and truly mean – that in everything I can rejoice: counting it all joy, even in trials and tribulations.”

In a way we don’t fully understand and would not choose, we are blessed when we are chosen by God and entrusted by Him with trials. These trials even develop our endurance, character, and hope in the Lord, as we bring glory to Him! This is what happened with Job and with many of the saints since. 

If you’ve not yet experienced hardship for Christ, be prepared, it will come. If you are experiencing difficult days because of being a Christian, take heart, the Lord has chosen you. He will uphold you as you rely on Him, and as you are faithful He will be glorified through you – in this you can rejoice! Let us all rejoice as we remember God’s faithfulness to us over this year and over all the years we have known Him. We can go into the new year filled with hope, knowing He will remain faithful throughout our days here, and into eternity. 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” —Romans 15:13


Week 3 Challenge:

In Romans 5:3–5, Paul tells us our hope in Christ does not disappoint us. Have you found this to be true? Have you ever felt disappointed by hope? How can you be certain that your hope in Christ will never disappoint?

Week 3 Reading Plan

Week 3 Memory Verse

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Julie McIlhatton

Julie McIlhatton

Julie McIlhatton lives in the beautiful Northern Ireland with her lovely husband and two fantastic boys. She is blessed to be able to be a stay at home mum and be involved in different ministries at her church. In her free time she likes to watch movies, play board games, and go for walks (when it’s not raining!). She enjoys listening to music of various kinds and is amazed at how much easier the right music makes mundane tasks, like cleaning. She is acutely aware of God’s undeserved love and grace lavished on her. In response, she seeks to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

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