By Jeremy Blum
As much as I am writing this blog series on the subject of hope, I am by no means an expert in it. Fruit tends to be the long-term result of something, and being still relatively young, I am discovering the long-term impact of hope in me experientially. Likewise, I’m learning theologically about the fruit of hope even as I write this. It’s a journey and for me the three points below are just the beginning. I hope that you also will continue this journey of discovering just how amazing the fruit of hope can be in our lives.
- Hope Renews Your Mind
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “God works in mysterious ways.” Well, as popular as it is, this saying is not in the Bible. For disciples, mysteries are meant to be solved (Prov. 25:2, Matt13:11). Jesus makes known the ways and will of the Father to His friends (John 15:15). However, we won’t be able to see it until we have different glasses. Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The renewed mind that we need is none other than the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). This enables us to begin to think like Jesus. We can then “test and approve what God’s will is” because we are starting to see what His mind is like.
I’ve seen this in my own life. For example, there was a short time as a teenager when my strong sense of calling collided with doubt. What if God’s will for my life is not for me to be given the opportunity to have a significant impact? After all, who knows? Well, anyone who really knows God knows just how good His will, flowing from His nature, really is. I have, thankfully, been finding this out as I develop a closer relationship with Him.
A couple notes about how this relates to hope. First, it takes real hope in your heart to believe that God’s will is not only perfect, but also good and pleasing. It gives you something to genuinely hope for. Second, hope enables us to have the mindset of Jesus, as we see in Romans 15:4-5: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had …”.
- Hope Strengthens us for Endurance
Romans 15:4 above tells us that as we reflect on the stories of those who walked with God we see that their examples of endurance give us encouragement to have hope. Allow me to suggest that this encouragement was given because hope strengthens us to have endurance in our own stories (Is. 40:31).
Consider the story of Joseph (Gen. 37-41). As a teenager, Joseph has two dreams symbolically saying one day that he would be the leader of his family even though he was among the youngest. Soon after, his brothers sell him into slavery in Egypt, and he spends 13 years first in slavery and then in prison. However, he doesn’t give up hope. There’s a fascinating episode from year 11 that illustrates this. Two people who are thrown into Joseph’s prison have dreams one night, and don’t know what they mean. Joseph says to them “Why do you look so sad today?” (Gen. 40:7) That’s an odd question to ask in a prison, and implies that Joseph was himself not sad. Furthermore, he tells them “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” (Gen. 40:8) After all this, Joseph still believes in God-dreams – and therefore his own God-dreams! Joseph still has hope in his heart, and I think that this carried him through all his suffering.
- Hope Gets the Crown
One more thing about Joseph: the hope he carefully guarded not only enabled him to have character that endures. It was his hopeful character that was part of what qualified him in God’s eyes to finally be exalted to his ruling position. You see, hope is actually a feedback loop. You first need a starter-level of hope to begin to endure, but as you exercise your “muscle” of choosing hope in perseverance, that develops your character to the point where you become stronger in the area of hope. (Rom. 5:3-4)
1 Corinthians 9:25 says, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” A hope-filled, vision-guided, disciplined, persevering character is essential to achieving anything of eternal significance. Living a life of hope matters. The results of Joseph’s life echo throughout the millennia and into eternity, and we were made for no less. Jesus says, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matt. 6:20) We were made to live for eternity, not passively wait for eternity. Only hope has the vision, brings the sense of purpose and gives the endurance necessary to do that.
Thank you for reading this short series on hope. I hope that you’ve been inspired to continuously fan the flame of hope in your heart. Here’s one more encouragement to that end. We’ve all been disappointed at some point, but our hearts can be healed of that. It’s not the end of the story. The end of the story is this: those who hope in the Lord will not ultimately be disappointed (Is. 49:23), and the promised fulfillment of hope will be “a tree of life”! (Prov. 13:12)