"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13
This morning while reading Lamentations 2, I turned back to re-read this passage in Romans 15. Grief overcomes Jeremiah because of the devastation of Jerusalem caused by God's judgment. Hopeless seems to be the best description of Jeremiah's dirge. But as you know, with the LORD there is always hope; just wait until tomorrow when we get to Lamentations 3. Paul reminds us of that fact in Romans 15:4, "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
Chapter 15 begins with another reminder for believers. As children of God and followers of Jesus Christ, we are in this together. As God's family, how we treat each other is important to our Father. Jesus described this relationship in John 13:35, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Therefore, we are to be considerate of our "weaker" brothers and sisters. The way we treat each other is significant because we all are the weaker ones. We may want to think of ourselves as the "strong," but in our heart we know we need the encouragement and support of each other. We all struggle with times of seeming hopelessness.
Paul quotes Psalm 69:9 in Romans 15:3. In Psalm 69, David is crying out to God because he is in a dire situation. He is hopeless unless God saves him. David is concerned, not just for himself but others. In verse six he says, "Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel." Doesn't that verse express much of what Paul says in Romans 14 and 15?
In Psalm 69:9, David is speaking of himself. "Zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me." David declares his love for the LORD and His temple has caused those who hate God to hate him. We know from John 2:17 that Jesus' disciples understood this passage to be a prophecy concerning Him; "His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'" Paul agrees with their deduction and counts all the insults against God as falling upon Jesus Christ.
Since Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all the insult, reproach, sin, and rebellion against God, those in Christ Jesus have hope. Romans 5:5 (NIV) says "hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he gave us."
Like David, sometimes we find ourselves in stressful situations that seem hopeless. As the family of God, part of our expression of hope in Him is displayed by how we bear with one another, welcome one another and live in harmony with one another. When I am experiencing those moments of hopelessness, the love of God's family encourages me. Just as Jesus became a servant to the Jews to show God keeps His promises and so the Gentiles could share in His glory, we, too, are to have a servant mentality within the family.
My prayer for you today is "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" to the glory of God our Father and for the hope and encouragement of your brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.