Reading: Romans 15:13
Verse 13a: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in God.”
The overarching title and theme of chapter 14 and the portion of chapter 15 that we’re reading this week is “The Weak and the Strong.” Chapter 14 is mostly about not judging or condemning those with weak (or less mature) faith. It is a reminder that we are all works in progress, that we all fall short now and again (and again.) Transitioning to one of the main things that gives us strength in our faith, Paul focuses on hope.
In our verse for today Paul begins by identifying God as “the God of hope.” We could, of course, choose other adjectives. God is the God of love, of grace, of forgiveness… Today, though, we focus with Paul on hope. In many ways it is often where we must begin if we are to experience love or grace or forgiveness… – or joy or peace, as Paul indicates today. I think we often begin with hope because hope is a choice. For example, if I am feeling led to reach out to someone in need, most would say that this is driven by love or compassion or empathy. True. But hope must lead the way first. If there is not a hope of making a positive impact, then I won’t risk the action even when I’m feeling led to do so.
In the second half of verse 13 Paul gives the “why” to his blessing of hope: “so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Hope, my friend, is not just for our benefit. Choosing hope, trusting in God, living in partnership with the Holy Spirit – it is a choice for the other. When we choose to live with hope, then God does indeed fill us with joy and peace – and a whole lot more! Thanks be to God!
Prayer: Lord, you indeed are the God of hope. In the incarnation you led with hope. There was never ever anyone that you thought outside your love. That is living with hope. Help me to be filled with such hope – so filled that it overflows! Amen.