George Everard, 1885
"The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:12-13
In the days of youth hope is like an Alpine climber, reaching a higher and a higher ascent, ever aiming at still loftier peaks, and scarcely resting until the greatest height has been attained. Various are the forms which this hope assumes. It may be the attainment of that which adds to our comfort, or it may be something far nobler, aiming at the discovery of some new truth or the carrying out some great design for the welfare of our fellow creatures. And though such hope may often sadly fail of its object — yet it frequently has a mighty power in quickening the energies of a young man, and enabling him to mount far higher than otherwise would be possible.
A true Christian hope has a no less mighty force, while it cannot fail of a sure and blessed fulfillment. It is described as "an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast;" it is as a helmet to cover the head in the day of battle. Paul declares that we are "saved by hope," and that "hope makes not ashamed." In days of sore trial, when everything seems to be against us, when the enemies of the truth seem to prosper, and the position of Christ's true Church and people is very discouraging — hope looks forward to a serener future and lifts her head above the threatening waves, in the assurance that the purposes of Eternal Love shall never be made void.
In the passage at the head of this chapter, we see Christian hope linked with each person of the Blessed Trinity. And it is worth while noticing this. In Holy Scripture the doctrine of the Trinity is never given to us as a theological problem, but as the source and spring of endless joy. It is in various aspects a revelation of the love of God. It tells how the Father gave the Son, how the Son gave Himself, how the Holy Spirit new-creates the soul to know and love God. It tells how the Father is on a throne of grace to hear prayer, how the Son pleads as our great High Priest, how the Spirit helps our infirmities and enables us to pray as we ought.
So in these words of Paul, we see the bright and joyful hope which the Christian may cherish coming to him through the goodwill and working of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
O that we were more grateful for this revelation of love coming to us through the Eternal Trinity! O that we ever more joyfully offered the adoration that is due when we join so frequently in the time-honored words, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen!"
But more particularly look at this threefold view of hope.
1. The Father is "the God of Hope." It is a grace He loves to dispense and to behold among His children. He is not the God of fear, or of gloom, or of darkness. No,
He has given His glorious Gospel, with all its rich and unchanging provisions of grace;
He has prepared mansions of rest, and such joys as no human heart can conceive;
He has made plain His faithfulness and the certainty of those good things which He has provided.
He has done it to this very end, that His children may have strong consolation, and may hope evermore in the fulfillment of His gracious promises.
Then likewise, as "the God of Hope," He delights to see a hopeful spirit in those who belong to His household. What parent would like to see his children looking troubled and anxious, when he was careful in every way to provide for their enjoyment and comfort? And is it not the same with our Father above? Would He have you fearful and depressed, and always afraid of what may happen in the future — instead of cherishing the bright and joyous spirit which a lively hope engenders in the heart?
If you would honor God, wear continually the helmet of hope. Even if everything around you and within tends to keep you low, still hope against hope, and in spite of appearances, yes, and of inward doubts — put your trust firmly on the truth of God's Word, and be sure that it will be fulfilled in its season. For remember the further encouragements which He gives to enable you to do this.
2. You have the Lord Jesus Christ as the unchanging object of your hope. "On Him shall the Gentiles hope." As in 1 Timothy 1:1, "Christ Jesus, our Hope." You cannot hope in yourself, for in yourself you find only evil, and weakness, and constant proneness to turn aside. But you may hope in Jesus, for He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. He will save you in the future, as He has m the past. He begins the work in the soul, He carries it on, and He perfects it. You may hope in Him as your Savior, your Shepherd, and your King. He will never fail you nor forsake you, but guide you every step of your pilgrimage.
You may hope in Him, for He is coming again to give rest, and honor, and glory, and a kingdom, and a crown to those who look to Him. Well may you hope in Jesus if your faith has but touched the hem of His garment, and you humbly look to Him day by day.
And still further encouragement is given you here. Not only is God the God of hope, not only is the Lord Jesus the object of your hope, when in yourself you find everything to disquiet you, but,
3. You have also the Holy Spirit, the efficient dispenser and worker of hope in the soul. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Here we have the Spirit of God implanting and nurturing hope within the soul. It is He who enlightens the heart to discern the grounds of hope. He removes the veil and mist of uncertainty and error and unbelief. He gives a vividness and reality to that which is yet out of our gaze. He points to Jesus as the bright and morning star, and tells of the "city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Thus He makes hope to grow, increase, and abound. He drives away our fears, and in place of them He gives a heart to sing of the land of the blessed.
"Onward, ever onward, journeying o'er the road
Worn by saints before us, journeying on to God;
Leaving all behind us may we hasten on,
Backward never looking until the prize is won."