September 7, 2012

Like an eagle

One of the reasons that I like that television show, The Mentalist, is the delighted and perhaps smug certainty shown in the main character’s smile. He is positive that his deductions and hunches will lead him to solve the crime. He is so sure of that outcome that his certainty affects his coworkers to trust what he is doing. His positive confidence is similar to what the Bible calls hope.

In normal English use, hope usually means “I want this” rather than “I’m sure of this” but the way it is used in Scripture is never associated with hopeful uncertainty. Instead, biblical hope is that pleasurable confidence that God is going to do everything He says He will do.

The word actually means “to anticipate with pleasure, confidence, faith” showing how closely hope is related to faith. Faith is knowing something is true, even if the eyes cannot see it yet. It is confidence in God, not in myself or my I-wants. Biblical faith is a certainty about God and His promises to the point that I have no doubts at all. 

Like faith, hope is a gift from God. The Bible says this about the source of faith…

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)

No one can conjure up faith. Intellectually, I could know that there is a supreme Being who can do all things. This is the “faith” of many religious people. However, without the faith that God gives, I could remain lost in my sin, unchanged and without hope. This gift of biblical faith is like the gift of hope. The root of hope actually comes from having faith, just as Paul indicates in this benediction from Romans…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

God Himself is a God of hope. He knows that what He has planned will happen. This certainty is passed on to His people. He can fill us with that same hope because we believe in Him. Because He has given me faith, then, through the power of His Holy Spirit, I can be so filled with His hope that I abound in it. 

This morning, these verses and the joy and peace that God gives make me feel like dancing!

Oh Lord God, thank You for You. Without You, without Your gifts of faith and hope, I would be filled with doubt and hopelessness. Instead, You fill me with both faith and hope — and add to that Your joy and peace. You lift me up. Your hope carries me on wings like an eagle. Some days, a mere thank You seems like very small words.

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