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

I am posting early this week because I need it and I know that so many who are grieving with me need it.

This verse has been a rock for me this past week not simply because of Paul’s prayer for the God of hope to fill us with “all joy and peace in believing” but primarily because of why Paul is able to pray such a prayer in the first place.  Verses 8 and 9 tell us that Christ came to confirm the promise and to bring God glory for His mercy; this is the source of our joy and peace and hope!  Christ has fulfilled the promise and demonstrated the mercy and justice of God!

Genesis begins with the account of creation; it paints a beautiful picture of man, God, and the whole of creation existing in perfect harmony.  Then human rebellion throws the entire galaxy into a self-destructive tailspin.  Once existing in perfect harmony man is now at war with creation, with his fellow man, even with himself, and ultimately with God (Genesis 3:16-24).  Amidst this great despair God offers a profound statement of hope, rather than crush this rebellion He promises to redeem these rebels; to reconcile them to himself, indeed to reconcile all things to himself (Genesis 3:14-15; Colossians 1:15-23).  Despite man’s betrayal God promises to set all things right again; to restore the relationship between man and creation, between man and his fellow man, between man and himself, and between man and God.

Christ comes as the fulfillment of that promise and we become partakers of that promise by turning from our rebellion and believing.  He comes to make all things new.  At the cross He takes the wrath of God that was directed toward human rebellion upon Himself and He gives us His righteousness in return (II Corinthians 5:21).  He sends His Spirit to indwell His redeemed people, His church, to reshape their lives so that they are characterized by Christlikeness rather than rebellion.  It is because of the confirmation of these promises that God can fill us with “all joy and peace in believing” and it is because of these promises that we have the Holy Spirit who causes us to “abound in hope” as we look forward, beyond this present suffering, to the day when the promise reaches its ultimate fulfillment:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  And he said to me, “It is done!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. –Revelation 21:1-7