Rejoice in Hope

silhouette of person standing on rock surrounded by body of water
 
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
 
Sometimes we need permission. We want to do something, but we’re still enough of a child at heart that we need permission. We need someone to say, “It’s ok. Go ahead.”
 
Thinking of permission-giving, I would love if my doctor would say, “Go ahead. Have another cookie. Take two. They’re good for you.”  That’s a dream that’s never coming true. Besides, even if the doctor said it, somehow I would know it’s just not true.
 
But what if we got permission from God himself.  Permission not to eat more cookies, but permission to rejoice.  Our text says, “Rejoice in hope.” We would love to rejoice and we would be glad to have hope. But we don’t want to be foolish or to lead ourselves into a trap of future disappointment. So we’re naturally cautious about joy and hope.
 
Likely because we’re so careful, God needs to give us permission here. Rejoice in hope.  Rejoicing in hope isn’t merely being glad that we’re not as bad off as some people. Rejoicing in hope is more than just saying, “Well, it could be worse.”  Rejoicing in hope isn’t even just remembering the good that has come already.  That would be rejoicing in what we already have. 
 
Instead, God says, “Rejoice in hope.” Look ahead with hope, with the confidence that our Father knows what we need and will provide for us at least as well as he provides for the birds and the flowers. Rejoice in hope, in the certainty that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Rejoice in hope, in the promise that God will raise us out of the grave and hold us with him for eternity. We’re not foolish or wrong to have this hope and to have the joy that comes with it.
 
So here’s your permission. Maybe don’t go for the second cookie, but do have a second and third helping of hope and the joy that comes with it.
 
Our Father in heaven, thank you for giving us hope and its joy.  We need your permission and your promises, but with them, we have every reason to hope. You know us, our needs, and will hold us safely in your hand. Help us to rejoice in this sure hope. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

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