Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
Paul says this to Christians who, within a few years, would endure a persecution in which some of them would be thrown to the lions and others would be burned to death in Nero’s garden.
The hope that Paul is speaking about here is not an optimistic feeling that things will get better. Paul was not naïve. He did not hold an evolutionary view of human nature. He says, “Evil people… will go from bad to worse” (2 Tim. 3:13).
The hope that Paul speaks about here is what the New Testament calls “the hope.” This hope is the great and glorious hope that is ours in Christ, located not in this world, but in the new world into which Christ will bring us at his second coming.
Paul describes the hope here: “Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:13-14). When you do not find joy in what is around you, find joy in what is ahead of you.
Paul spoke about this hope in Romans: “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2). “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). Then he speaks about the redemption of our bodies and he says, “in this hope we were saved,” and “we wait for it with patience” (Rom. 8:25).
Whatever our circumstances today, God says to us, “Rejoice in hope!”
Can you “rejoice in hope” in spite of your circumstances today?