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 (ESV)
When my children were little, my wife and I would read them The Chronicles of Narnia before going to bed each night. That has transitioned to watching The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with my now-teenage sons. The goal is the same as they grow: showing them the good, the beautiful, and the true (but adding a bit more of the reality of the bad and the ugly). I desire for them to have categories for the brokenness of the world, and the joy to which they should aspire. Every cowboy movie, even those old Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns, has a happy ending. It just takes a while (like 3 hours!) to get there.
I hope that I’ve been a good parent. Beyond my questionable decision to show them shoot-’em-up movies, I hope that I’ve shepherded their hearts well. I hope that I’ve shown them a bit of their Heavenly Father.
I hope that my children have taken Proverbs 3:4-6 to heart. That they would trust in the Lord completely and acknowledge Him always, and not lean on their own understanding of the world.
I hope that they would be ones who defy cultural whims and hold fast to Christ. That, like my own parents modeled to me, they would tend their own garden (Prov. 28:19), and see fruit flourish even beyond their own garden into their neighbors’.
In turn, I pray that my children would abound in hope, come what may in this world. How much more does our Heavenly Father want to instill that hope in His children!
In Romans 15:13, the Apostle Paul writes of hope, and it is a hope that is contingent upon faith. Through belief in what God has done through Christ and all the promises He has guaranteed through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we have an assurance. The Holy Spirit is the deposit which guarantees the fulfillment of those promises of God. So that we may abound in hope!
My oldest son watched The Shawshank Redemption for the first time just recently. It is the story of a man, Andy, who held on to hope throughout his wrongful incarceration. It is a story of redemption, of salvation from bondage, and my son smiled when Andy made it through 500 yards of filth to get to liberty. But there is a coda. Andy’s friend Red, who has been hopeless for much of his incarceration, finds hope after receiving a letter from Andy. He says, “I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.” Those last two words are said as he sees Andy and walks towards him with a smile on his face.
That’s the kind of hope we have. In this letter from Paul to the Church in Rome and to the Church today, we are invited into this hope. In our families, our friendships, and our churches, we are inviting others into this hope. The hope of the Gospel, the hope of cultural reformation, the hope of the Kingdom of God.
As we fast and pray, may the Gospel be food for us to sustain us and strengthen us give us a living hope:
- Pray for Christian parents to disciple their own children.
- Pray that families will center around Jesus and His Word so that they can be strong in faith.
Pray that Christians will have the power to abound in the hope for Jesus’ greater works among us
Ministry Director, Christian Union at Penn