Hope, Patience and Confidence

“We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)”
Romans 8:24-25 NLT

Just as a reminder, the “hope” referred to by Paul was written in the previous verse in Romans. We read in Romans 8:23b, “ … We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” To Paul, this wasn’t just a vague notion of something to come, with a half-hearted, secular, definition of hope. Too often we express a hope for something relatively unimportant, like “I hope it doesn’t rain today” or “I hope there’s a parking space available”. The hope Paul was expressing was much more than that. It was fully inspired by, and infused with, faith. The sort of faith that was famously written about in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see”. So faith-inspired hope would start with “I know …”. 

Paul’s assurance about the “hope” he expressed was total. He knew that Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary was a once-only, all-encompassing, act of divine love and grace, that one day would result in the culmination of all that he had been promised. Paul qualified his statement of hope, however, by the obvious aside that reminded his readers that they could only hope for something that they hadn’t already received. Of course, Paul wasn’t already living in his new body, but it was something that was going to happen to him some time in the future. No tantrum from Paul – “I want it now! Right now!” – he was fully prepared to “wait patiently and confidently”. 

We pilgrims are on this planet, 2,000 years or thereabouts after Paul wrote these words in his letter to the Roman Christians. We too were given a “hope” when we were saved. At Calvary, where we put our faith and trust in Jesus, a new vista opened before us. Not anymore a potential life of sin and shame followed by an end, the thought of which was making us feel vaguely uneasy. We too, like Paul, have a “hope” to look forward to. Like him, we too will receive our new bodies. The old Apostle John wrote in 1 John 3:2, “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is”. Is it too much of a stretch of our “hope” to assume that our new bodies will be like Jesus’s was (and still is) after His resurrection, and behave in the same way? If  so, perhaps we too will have bodies as they were when we were 33 years old, because that was how old Jesus was when He died.

But we mustn’t forget that our “hope” is in our salvation. We are saved from the awful alternative of a life spent in a place we call hell. That is why we pilgrims walk on. Strong in faith. Assured of God’s love and grace. Hoping with patience and confidence for the day when we will see Him face to face. 

Dear Father. In You, we have a certain hope for our future eternal life, to be spent with You in Heaven. But before we get impatient, we remember what Paul said, and put our trust in You for our future, coming at just the right time. Thank You. Amen.

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