“O Israel, hope in the lord from this time forth and forevermore” (v. 3).
We can’t hope unless we come to terms with two truths. When it comes to our pride, we need a subdued and humbled heart. When it comes to God’s providence, we need a calmed and quieted soul. When these are in place, hope anchors our soul even when we pass through the deep waters of affliction.
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
when the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
will your anchor drift or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul,
steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
I began this series by affirming that hope is crucial to our journey homeward. How so? Paul thanks God for the church at Colossae because he has heard of their faith in Christ and love for the saints (Colossians 1: 4). In this prayer of thanksgiving, we have a sure test of spiritual growth. It isn’t intellectual knowledge; just because we can unravel complex theological motifs doesn’t mean we’re growing spiritually. It isn’t exceptional experiences, glamorous gifts, or marvelous ministries.
The test of spiritual growth is vibrant faith (the object of which is God’s Son) and vibrant love (the object of which is God’s people). Interestingly, Paul goes on to say that the believers at Colossae are growing in faith and love “because of the hope laid up for [them] in heaven” (v. 5). In other words, “the hope of glory” (v. 27) is the fuel that causes their faith and love to burn bright.
How does hope strengthen faith? Difficult circumstances can weaken our faith; we become discouraged by the condition of this world, the sin in our hearts, the problems we encounter, and the losses we experience. But our hope is fixed on what will be: the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the renovation of the entire cosmos. Our hope makes this future certainty a present reality, thereby fueling our faith in Christ.
How does hope strengthen love? Difficult relationships can weaken our love; we become discouraged by the way people treat us and by the strain that marks so many of our relationships. But our hope is fixed on what will be: the day when all of God’s people will be free from sin, when we’ll be free from strife and contention, and when love will reign supreme. Our hope makes this future certainty a present reality, thereby fueling our love for others.
We abound in faith and love as we live in the certain expectation that God will fulfill all his promises.
Excerpted from Longing for Home by J. Stephen Yuille
Yesterday: Part 3: Calming and Quieting the Soul