Did you try to make New Year resolutions or wish to
turn your mind to thoughts of a better new year only to find your mind filled
with thoughts of the seemingly unending difficulties from 2020? This new year of 2021 is unique as we
desperately wish to place the tensions of 2020 far behind us. You require no exhaustive explanation as to
why we want a better year due to COVID-19.
This yearning is certainly understandable, and I too look forward to the
days when it will be safe to engage in a fuller range of activities and not
have to follow social restrictions. But
I want to step away for the moment from this immediate desire of getting back
to pre-COVID days. We will consider what
can give us hope for a better year. Let’s
delve into what the Bible says about our hope in God and His promises.
There are many passages of Scripture which speak about having hope in God, but one valuable passage which lays out the topic of Biblical hope is Romans 8:18-25. Since I will not quote the whole passage, but make some comments on a few of the verses in this section, take some time to go back and read it in context. Romans 8:18 starts out by saying,
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Here two things are contrasted- the suffering of this present time and the glory that is to be revealed to us. The sufferings of this present time are a result of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. As a consequence, Eve suffered pain in childbirth which is just one example of the anguish, frustration, and miseries of this life. The apostle Paul emphasizes in Romans 8:22,
“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pain of childbirth together until now.” The whole world is laboring under the impact of sin, corruption, and evil. Certainly, one key factor in the realm of a Christian’s hope is that we must gauge our expectations, acknowledging that in this life we will continue to suffer hardship and trouble of many different varieties because we live in a sin-cursed world. Therefore, we must not expect heaven on earth or the circumstances of our lives to get better and better. It is natural for us to wish for health, stability, and peace in our lives, but since God does not promise that to us, we must have realistic hope grounded in God’s Word. What God does promise to us in Romans 8:18-25 is at least two blessings. In Romans 8:23 the apostle Paul writes,
“And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
The hope we have in God is that all who trust in Jesus as God and Savior have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us: dwelling, abiding, encouraging. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as a first fruit which is an illustration of an early harvest in spring which itself is a promise of a later and fuller harvest in the fall of the year. We are given the Holy Spirit who assures us that we are the sons of God and that a later and fuller work of God will happen in the redemption of our bodies through the resurrection at the last Day. We have then this hope that God has begun His work of salvation in us! He has given us the forgiveness of sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in us to change and transform us, developing greater holiness in our lives. And one day He will bring about the resurrection of all of God’s people at Christ’s second coming.
Paul concludes this passage with these words in Romans 8:25,
“But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”
Going back to my opening thoughts about the hopes we have for 2021, it is good to long for the pandemic to go away and become a memory of the past. But as in all things, our hopes ought to be realistic, based on what God has promised to us His children for this life even as we long for the fullness of God’s kingdom in heaven.
May our lasting hope be found in trusting that the Holy Spirit will grow our ability to lean on Him and become more like Jesus this year. Even so come, Lord Jesus.