"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Romans 15:13)
What a fantastic prayer to ask God for others and for ourselves. What more could we wish for other believers that to be filled with joy and peace and abounding in hope?
Paul's prayer for Christians is often used as a benediction in churches today. It is a powerful statement about what God can do in the heart and mind of every Christian. Paul makes this request of the God of hope - another name for God. He is the only lasting source of hope we have for meaning in this life and for a life beyond death
Joy, peace, and hope are three marks of a Christian, and this verse shows the way in which they are intermingled. Joy, peace, and hope all come from God, by the power of his Holy Spirit. Paul writes this verse as a blessing and a prayer over his readers, including today's believer.
How can God fill his child with joy and peace, and what is the part played by the Christian? It is to trust in him. Much of the church was enduring persecution in the day the epistle was written. The hope, joy, and peace were readily available to those who continued to "trust in him." Today, there is still persecution, and it is becoming more prevalent every day. Christians throughout the world are being murdered just because they are Christians. In this country we are ridiculed for believing in the Bible and following its laws But, we can be content knowing that we have hope in a much brighter future.
Let's look at this verse phrase by phrase:
"Now the God of hope..." God is the God of hope. No matter what the circumstances, there is always hope in God and in His ways and His promises. For the Christian, hope is not some wistful dreaming, it is faith and assurance that the God who is who He says He is will always be faithful and true to His nature. Our hope comes from God who is "the God of hope."
"...fill you with all joy..." Our joy is from God. It is not the glee of momentary pleasure. It is a happiness that runs deeply through every fiber of our being. Our joy is the joy of the big picture that motivates all our action, service, and worship. It is the acknowledgment that we are made for joy as divine image-bearers of the joyful God of the universe, saved by the blood of the joyful Son of God. "You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions." (Ps 45:7). Joy is our birthright. A Christian without joy is missing some of the point of existence and should seek to remedy the situation.
"...and peace..." Not only does God give joy, but he gives perfect peace. Christ died to give us peace with God and men. In one sense he claimed that He did not come to bring peace, but division. But this is concerning circumstances. Christ certainly did not have peace between Himself and His enemies, but He always had the perfect tranquility that comes from abiding in God.
"in believing, that ye may abound in hope..." Paul describes a blessed cycle. The God of hope wants to give you hope. He does this by giving joy and peace, which leads to overflowing hope! This comes from "trust[ing] in him." Rather than having to focus on joy or peace, the believer puts his or her effort into trusting. The rest follows as a result.
"...through the power of the Holy Ghost." The Holy Spirit of God is the power for everything about the Christian life. The Holy Spirit empowers ministry, strengthens faith, and gives the peace and joy that overflows in hope. The Christian can do absolutely nothing apart from Him. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5).
As we begin a new year and we are bombarded with the fear and negativity of the world "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Put your faith in God, not in the world and concentrate on the hope of a brighter future.