The more I think about hope—how it happens, what sustains it, how it’s even possible—the more I realize it is entirely dependent on the Holy Spirit. How else does a believer endure grief and suffering and somehow still find joy? We hope in a future that is guaranteed by the Spirit. We walk obediently with a sovereign God because of the power of the Spirit in us. We are able to find joy because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, now gives us life. (Romans 8:11)
Without the Spirit, hope is hard to find.
As I’ve contemplated this connection, I came across this sermon from John Piper:
“Being filled with joy by the river of hope that overflows in the freedom to love, all to the glory of God—this is what the New Testament means by being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). There are passages which make this very plain. For example, Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, in order that by the power of the Holy Spirit you might abound in hope.”
How can we abound in hope? Answer: by the power of the Holy Spirit. When Paul says in Romans 5:5, “Hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us,” he means that the work of the Holy Spirit is to open our eyes to the staggering implications of the love of God for our future and thereby fill us with hope.”
When hope feels far away, we need only turn to the Spirit. And that truth begs the question, “How are we really filled with the Holy Spirit? Again, Piper paints a beautiful reality:
“. . . .meditate day and night upon the incomparable, hope-giving promises of God. That’s the way Paul kept his heart full of hope and joy and love. He said (in Romans 15:4) “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction that by the steadfastness and encouragement of the scriptures we might abound in hope.”
The full assurance of hope comes from meditating on the promises of God’s Word. . . . Hope is not some vague emotion that comes out of nowhere, like a stomachache. Hope is the confidence that the stupendous future promised to us by the Word of the Spirit is going to really come true.”
So, when being filled with the Holy Spirit feels like an impossible, elusive goal, let’s remember that it’s neither elusive or impossible: it’s completely accessible through the Word of God. It’s meditating on the Word of God. Reading His promises and banking on them with our whole being.
And you know what’s incredible about this truth? It means that I can practice hope without feeling hopeful on an emotional level. I can preach truth to my heart and be filled with the Spirit, with access to the same power that raised Jesus from the dead even on the most difficult day. I can choose true hope, even when I’m an emotional wreck. I can literally be full of hope in sadness. It’s possible because of the Holy Spirit.
Every time I stop to really think about it I am overwhelmed by God’s provision for us to be in a relationship with Him. He knows that what He calls us to is impossible in our own strength and ability. So He gives us His Word to instruct, and He gives us His Spirit to guide us. Convict us. Comfort us. All of the things we need that we can never produce on our own. God gives us the things we need to do the things He asks us to do. What a kind and gracious Creator!
Are you in need of hope today, friend? Run to the Word of God and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Hope will abound.