Connections 05.23.2021: The Power of Hope

Romans 8:22-27

Hope. What does the word “hope” mean? Is it wishful thinking? Daydreaming? Longing? Desiring? Or is it something more certain and true?

When I use biblegateway.com to search for the word “hope” in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, I get 202 results—from Ruth 1:12 all the way to 3 John 1:14. It’s used in several different contexts: as a wish for something to take place, a leap of faith into the unknown, a deep longing for truth to be revealed, and an assurance of promises that will one day be fulfilled.

I volunteer at a local nonprofit called Jay’s HOPE Foundation that serves families of children with cancer. Founded by the parents of a little boy named Jay, who died of complications from a malignant brain tumor, the foundation supports kids with cancer through fun annual events; a summer camp; gas station, restaurant, and grocery store gift cards; school tutoring; hospital visits; and much more. The founders put their unmet hopes for their own little boy—that he would be cured and live a long life—into helping others who are going through the same devastating journeys. For them, “hope” means trusting in God to make all things new in spite of sickness, pain, and loss. They haven’t seen that hope realized yet, but they cling to it still.

Paul writes about this kind of hope in Romans. This hope involves waiting that is sometimes painful—a “groaning” kind of hope. It’s hard to live in a world with so many troubles. Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ravaging parts of the world. Police officers await trials—or are excused—for shooting unarmed Black people. A hacker group has orchestrated a ransomware attack on gas pipelines in the Southeast. The United States is deeply divided by political party. Refugees are fleeing their homes in search of safety. Climate change is accelerating. And, as always, people all around the world are hungry, oppressed, lonely, or sick. Yes, we are groaning as we wait for “the redemption of our bodies” (v. 23).

Paul says that “in hope we were saved” (v. 24). This means that we, as followers of Christ, have taken a step in faith without being able to see exactly where we will land. We trust that wherever it is, God will be there. Like Jay’s parents, “we hope for what we do not see” (v. 25). And in the meantime, “we wait for it with patience” and do what we can to help others, with the Spirit helping us all along the way (vv. 26-27).

Maybe, while we wait in hope and work to alleviate suffering, we can look for the joy in our world instead of dwelling on the pain. Where do you find joy?

Discussion

  • What does the word “hope” mean to you? How do you normally use the word?
  • Look up “hope” in the Bible and read some of the verses. What do you think is the biblical definition of hope?
  • When have you felt hopeless, and what did you do about it?
  • How can you maintain your hope in a struggling world?
  • What would God have you do as you wait for full redemption? How can the Holy Spirit comfort you and give you strength?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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