Joyful in Hope
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Rom. 12:12
In our information age we have an ever increasing awareness of activities far from us – our “world” is getting bigger. With the increase of information comes an increase of understanding about the conflicts, injustices and pain that people we’ve never met are facing. If the evidence found in our own communities hasn’t already caused us to become concerned that things in the world have gone terribly wrong, the availability of information through the internet and social media has convinced us.
With such availability to bad news it can seem inappropriate to be joyful – almost like there are unwritten rules demanding we be somber, discouraged, angry and even militant. But if we are to fight injustices, face conflicts and endure pain as Christians, then we will do so with God’s spirit – a spirit easily identified through nine characteristics including joy.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – Gal. 5:22-23
It’s interesting to read about Christ followers throughout history who have seen and experienced extraordinary hardship and persecution. Whether they died facing injustice and hardship like Martin Luther King Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or joined with the suffering of the poor and forgotten like Mother Theresa, they were known to possess a posture of joy and hope despite their circumstances. They weren’t happy with, nor in any way satisfied with, the way things were – they fought hard. But they knew the end game; they knew that what they were seeing and experiencing wasn’t what God had in mind. They knew God would have the final say and they worked to introduce, unveil and expose others to the realities of the Kingdom that is to come.
It’s important for us to remember that being joyful in hope isn’t an inappropriate posture when facing conflicts, injustices and pain. As Jesus followers, it is the appropriate posture:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3
This week, be joyful in hope.
Live a life that displays an anticipation and excitement for the fact that God has something beautiful in store for us and it’s available to all. Let your joy be a taste of the eternal for others – like a spectacular dish from a foreign land.
When you’re going through struggles with a loved one, neighbor or coworker, be a voice of hope.
When you experience pain and loss remember that even Jesus scorned the shame of the cross, but his belief in what was coming gave him the joy that helped him endure it.
When you see injustice, face it with the strength that comes from knowing that it has no place in the Kingdom of Heaven, and with the excitement that comes from knowing that you can have a hand in making it extinct.