My son moved his left leg ever so slightly a couple of weeks ago.
For most people, that would almost be a meaningless statement. Why is it such a big deal that a grown man moved his left leg? The reason is simple. The leg had not moved since his accident June 26 of last year. When we see a leg move, we rejoice and have a party.
That is progress. That gives us hope. And we long for more.
What causes you to rejoice? What gives you hope? The Bible is so helpful in dealing with these questions. In the first place, Paul writes, “Rejoice always.” Notice he does not say, “Rejoice when things are going well.” He does not say, “Rejoice when you get the promotion,” or “Rejoice when your team wins the game,” or “Rejoice when the grandchild is born.” No, Paul writes, “Rejoice always.”
Now, that means that we can rejoice when those other things happen. But we are to rejoice no matter the circumstances, and we can rejoice for one simple reason. We know that God is in control. We know that he is going to accomplish his purposes in the world and, therefore, in our lives. We trust God, so we rejoice.
And then there is the matter of hope. We use that word so differently in our own culture and language. We are planning to go to the beach, but when we step outside to load the car ominous clouds lurk over the horizon.
“Oh, I hope it doesn’t rain,” we say, despite the meteorologists predictions of rain for the next three days. Or the student who has not studied for the test might say, “I hope I do well.”
In both instances, the word hope does not mean much. In fact, “hope” is more like wishful thinking. And we know that our hoping likely is to be in vain.
That is not the New Testament idea behind the word that is translated “hope.” One Bible dictionary declares that the Greek word for hope carries with it the idea of expectancy. When one hopes in God, there is the expectancy that he will deliver.
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is our only hope. But it also makes it clear that this hope is real, and that a relationship will secure for us eternal life that is real and wonderful. A contemporary worship song declares, “My hope is in you, Lord.” And that is the declaration of Christ-followers for all time.
Again, I ask you these questions: In what do you rejoice? In what is your hope? Do as the psalmist says: “Hope in God.” When you do, there will be ample reason to rejoice as well.