“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”
-Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)
We all want and need encouragement, yet we often get what we don’t want or need – discouragement. We don’t seek it out, but it has a way of finding us. When our discouragement exceeds our encouragement we run a deficit. When our despair exceeds our hope we experience deficit living. And deficit living will lead us to spiritual bankruptcy.
Paul inspires his fellow believers in Rome by pointing out to them that we serve a God of encouragement: “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 (Rom 15:13).”
Hope is defined as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” But as believers in Jesus Christ, hope is more than a feeling. Paul says that not only do we have hope, but we can overflow with it, experiencing a surplus of it.
The Apostle Peter says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet 1:3).” A Christian’s hope is defined as assurance – a guarantee – through this living hope.
Hope is considered to be one of the three theological virtues of the Christian belief, along with faith and love. It is an enduring and confident expectation of good things to come – salvation and eternal life. This hope is rooted in the belief in the promises of God and in the person of Jesus Christ.Hope helps us to persevere through difficult times and to have confidence in the future. It is a source of strength and comfort in times of hardship and adversity, and can help us remain steadfast in our faith even when things are tough. Our hope is a central part of our faith and is a key aspect of our relationship with God. It is the confidence and expectation that God will do what He promised.
Even as believers we are going to experience times of discouragement; times when our circumstances start to deplete our surplus as our hope slides down the slippery slope toward a deficit.
The Israelites experienced this as Moses was preparing them to enter the land God had promised them. He told the people that seven nations were already in the land who were larger and stronger, but he assured them that God would drive these nations out (Deut 7:1). Moses knew that discouragement would creep in as the people began to look at the circumstances. “You may say to yourselves, ‘These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?’ But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt (Deut 7:17-18). Do not be terrified by them, for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God (Deut 7:21).”
Our hope is based on what our great and awesome God has done and what He promises to do. We have a guarantee for the future because of what He did in the past. When we do experience discouragement, it should be short-lived. We must make a conscious decision to choose hope over despair. Once we remind ourselves that God is greater than our circumstances, we can move forward with confident hope and live out of the surplus that He has provided.
Let us not forget that we were created for surplus living; living out of the overflow of God’s wonderful grace through our living hope, Jesus Christ.
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