As one year ends and another begins, many take the opportunity to look ahead. Anticipation, plans, vision, and hope are all words used in new year resolutions and journals. How they are interpreted varies from person to person, depending on one’s background and faith. As a Christ-follower, I choose to turn to Scripture for guidance and direction. I’m especially drawn to Paul’s words to the church in Rome for my focus this year:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we boast in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.Romans 5:1-5 CSB (Emphasis mine)
Using Paul’s words as my guide, I say with confidence that as 2022 comes to an end, as one justified—made right with God—by faith, I have peace with God through my Lord Jesus Christ. And because of that faith, I have experienced his grace in abundance in this year, as in years past. It is in this grace I am able to stand and say with confidence, even with boasting, that I have hope in God.
Faith, Grace, Hope
What a wonderful reality that has enabled me to press on in life, in mission service, in work, in family, in grief, in every moment of every day. I know that God will receive the glory and does receive the glory as I strive to live for him.
But Not Only That…There’s More
While I’m able to stand with confidence in the hope he’s granted me through faith, I am also able to say that through whatever afflictions, big or small, I’ve known in this year or years past, he is using them for his purposes. Any struggles I’ve faced are producing in me an increased ability to endure in this life. In that ability to endure, he’s shaping my character more into that of Christ (though I feel I have yet a long way to go on that score). Yet, as he helps me to endure and become more like Jesus, he’s increasing my hope. Yep, that same hope that came from faith and grace.
Struggles and afflictions build the hope that is the foundation of our faith.
If I never knew trials and struggles in this world, I would have no reason to hope for the life to come. It’s in the absence of perfection in this world that I long for another. It’s in the increased evil and darkness of this day that I long for the return of the One who will conquer all once and for all. This present struggle reminds me that I have a day to look forward to—to hope for—when all will be made new in Him.
The hope produced by affliction doesn’t disappoint, because we’ve had a taste of what’s to come.
Despite trials and sorrows, I’ve known his love through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in me. Without his current presence, there is no hope, but with his presence, we can be filled to overflowing with hope, no matter the trial, because we’re reminded of what that love cost the Father in the first place. That’s why we need to read on to verse six:
For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.Romans 5:6
In our reconciliation state, we have a hope that comes by faith, brings peace with God, and helps us to stand firm in his grace and endure trials, proving our character. This is a hope that does not disappoint and this is the hope I will rest in in the year to come that God may be glorified in all that comes my way.
Where is your hope for 2023? I pray that you too may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God through Christ Jesus as you make him the Lord of your life.
Grace and Peace