“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

These words in Romans are part of the believer’s response to all that God has done for him in Christ. The earlier chapters of Romans speak of the deep sinfulness of man, the abundant grace of God and the glory of God in saving a people. How should we respond in thanksgiving to this grace? Or said another way, what are some qualities that should define the life of a Christian? Here are three, and we will focus on the first one today.

Rejoicing in hope. Christ’s death and resurrection is the basis and security of our hope. Christian hope has solid, solid ground. Hope is not merely the power of positive thinking such as, “Just stay positive and everything will turn around in your life. You lost your job, but think happy thoughts and you will get an even better job.” That is a flawed, worldly idea of hope. The reality is, God has never promised us that we will not have hard times. If we expect God to make our lives pain-free, trouble-free and burden-free, we have a false expectation. Christian hope means that we live with an eternal perspective. It means that we endure through the hard blows of affliction and frustrations in life, because we have a view of life that is not confined to this earth. It means that we can still rejoice when there are dark clouds of sadness and adversity above us, because we know there is the sunshine of God’s faithful love and our eternal bliss above those clouds.

Furthermore, Christian hope means that we don’t have to walk through life with cynicism or always be assuming the worst. We don’t have to have a mindset of every day being a “doomsday.” I think that is a challenge for some during this strange season of crisis. Because of what Scripture teaches us, we can have hope that God is working something good even in the midst of the mess. We have hope because we know that He is not frustrated, fearful or at a loss for what to do or think. We can rejoice in hope because He has graciously granted us precious promises. Promises that His goodness and mercy will pursue us all our days on this earth. Promises that He will be our God and remember our sins against us no more. Promises that He will finish the good work that He has started within us. And promises that His kingdom will endure and advance, even through persecution, disease, and other calamities.We can be hopeful that God will be working to save people and draw them to His Son.

We can be hopeful that God will keep purifying and sanctifying every flawed Christian (that means all of us). We can be hopeful that He will hear our cries and guide us in His righteous paths. Note this–if we don’t rejoice in these truths, we dishonor that hope that Christ has gained for us. Again, we dishonor that hope! I don’t want to do that, and I don’t think you do either. Therefore, let us rejoice! Let us actively fight off cynicism and hopelessness with God’s truth. Let us fix our gaze on the Lord, through His word. For some it may mean reading news and social media less, if it puts your mind in a bad frame. For some it may mean singing a hymn of praise in order to get your mind and right back in a good path. Rejoice in hope!