It’s that familiar trio: faith, hope and love. We often get teaching about faith and love. But hope sometimes seems to be the poor relation. And this is a shame, because you really can’t live without hope. The great Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, ‘To live without hope is to cease to live’. We tend to regard hope as a kind of feeling or a mental attitude. And, of course, it is. But Christian hope is much more than that. In day-to-day conversation, ‘hope’ carries with it an element of doubt: “I hope it won’t rain tomorrow”. But Christian hope is, as the old Prayer Book funeral service puts it, ‘sure and certain’.
What Paul says here is that our hope is stored up in heaven. Far from being just a feeling or a mental attitude, it’s something stored away in the safest of safe places. It’s as if there’s a ‘reservoir’ of hope for us to draw on. This means that it doesn’t depend on our circumstances, how we feel, what we are experiencing or other people. Our true source of hope is outside and beyond all these things.
In Romans 5:3-5, Paul talks about difficult times. He says: ‘Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us’. He is telling us that in the toughest of times, we can have real hope because of the Holy Spirit.
What does this mean? The explanation is in Ephesians 1:14. Paul writes that the Holy Spirit ‘is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance’. That word, ‘deposit’ means a first down payment. In modern Greek, the word translated ‘deposit’ is used of an engagement ring. The Holy Spirit is the Heavenly Bridegroom’s engagement ring to His Bride, the Church. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we have God’s first down-payment of all that He has promised us. The gift of the Holy Spirit is His unchangeable assurance that He will see us safely through until we join the ‘wedding feast of the Lamb’ (Revelation 19:9). So, when we have the Holy Spirit in our lives, we have hope and, by the Holy Spirit, begin to draw from the reservoir of hope stored up for us in heaven.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the hope that is stored up for me in Heaven. I thank You that, by Your Holy Spirit, I can access this hope day-in, day-out. Please forgive me for the times when I have used props of my own choosing to bolster up my hope. Lord, today I bring to You the things that make me feel uncertain and insecure. Please fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit, that I may go forward with a sure and certain hope for the future. Amen.
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