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Joyful in Hope

January 28, 2008


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction & faithful in prayer”. Romans 12:12


I read this verse a long time ago and while I really liked it & stuck it to my bathroom mirror to remember, I didn’t completely understand the first phrase, “be joyful in hope”.  The rest of the verse made perfect sense to me, but this first part was a little more difficult.  I felt like it would require more of me possibly than the later two statements.  I understood what it would take to me patent in affliction and faithful in prayer; but joyful in hope?

I began looking up the meaning for the words joyful & hope.  I really like doing this because there are so many times that I think I know what a verse means until I begin to search out the roots of the word.  I found this definition of joy.

  • Joy; “Happiness over an unanticipated or present good.”  

Joy is in the root of rejoicing which is how the Geneva and the King James both translate the Greek text to say.  And here is the definition of hope that I found.

  •  Hope ; “To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.”

So, according to these two definitions I am to be happy or cheerful as I trust in and wait for the Lord to do something outstanding in my life.  That sounds all good and biblical, but not very realistic to me.  If my life is falling apart, how am I to be happy?  How can I be happy that my life is falling apart?  (My life is not falling apart by the way; I just think it is sometimes)  Here is what I have come to realize about this part of the verse.  God NEVER expects me be happy that I am experiencing difficulties.  He’s not even happy that I am experiencing them.  What I am  to be happy or joyful about is the fact that he is at work in my life, he is going to do something great, he is going to reveal himself to me in ways I can not even imagine.  I am to be joyful in the hope of what he is about to do in my life.  That sounds like a lot more fun!

It means that while I am in the midst of my boat called life and the waves are splashing up against the boat, spraying me in the face, I can look out and see him standing in the boat with me, keeping the waves from sinking my boat.  He is getting ready to calm the sea, but first he wants me to trust him.  That is another part of the definition of hope; “to trust in”.  It is very easy to say that we trust God in our lives, but when it really comes down to it, do we? 

I fail at this so often.  I say that I trust him to answer my prayer or to take care of something, but when I see the clock clicking away & he doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it, I step in and play God again.  It would be like me taking the oars in the boat and trying to row back to shore.  The shore looks safer than the storm I’m in so I want to go back.  And God in all of his mercy let’s me go back to shore at times.  He gives me what I want.  And it is the same outcome every time.  FAILURE!  I don’t trust, instead I think that I can do a better job than God!  Oh my goodness, doesn’t that sound wonderful?  WRONG!  Who am I to think that I can do a better job than the one who simply spoke me into existence…forget me; he spoke the whole universe into existence.  Have you see how big it is out there & here I am thinking that I know how to handle my life better than he would.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thought than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55: 8,9 (NIV)

The honest fact is that none of us can even get out of bed in the morning if our God doesn’t want us to.  He is every aspect of every second of our day.  He thinks about us more than there are grains of sand on the sea shore.  “How precious are your thoughts about me O God!  They are innumerable.  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of the sand!”  (Psalms 139:7-8)  He loves us so deeply that he gave his son to die so that we wouldn’t have to.  The emotions that I experience when I think about the depth of that love, that I am not even capable of, are enormous!  I am engraved on the palm of his hand, he will not forget me!  “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;” (Isaiah 49:16)

Why wouldn’t I be joyful in hope?  Why wouldn’t I trust him to do a better job than I am doing with my life?  Why wouldn’t I be happy that he is about to do a great new thing in my life!

Isaiah 43:19, For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!

I found this commentary in the Matthew Henry’s, and I thought was very thought provoking.

 ” He is honored by our hope and trust in him, especially when we rejoice in that hope. He is served, not only by working for him, but by sitting still quietly, when he calls us to suffer. Patience for God’s sake, is true piety. Those that rejoice in hope, are likely to be patient in tribulation. We should not be cold in the duty of prayer, nor soon weary of it” (Matthew Henry’s)

Remembering that my life is not really about me, rather it is all about God puts this verse all in perspective.  I can be joyful in my hope of his touch on my life as I am patient in my affliction and faithful in my prayers, because it is through him that all things happen.

Heavenly Father, help me to rejoice in my expectancy and trust of your working in my life. A~men!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2008 11:22 am

    What encouragement – thank you so much for this gift of a post.


  2. January 29, 2008 9:11 am

    Amen, Dana!

    Hope and joy are sometimes the hardest attitudes to keep in daily life, aren’t they? And they really are tied to our trust in Him- our faith. I wondered one day after lots of trials and testings when God seemed to be moving extremely slowly to answer any single prayer that we prayed – I wondered why does God care so much that we have strong faith in Him? I knew that these trials were for strengthening our faith, but why did we have to be tested so much and for so long? What’s the big deal about faith? Why does He want us to have so much faith in Him? I prayed about it and asked God, “Why do you care so much that we have strong faith in you?” I felt like He told me that we prove our love for Him when we trust Him. It’s really about love. He wants to know that we love Him, even when circumstances are hard, and He doesn’t seem to be taking very good care of us. He really is, it just doesn’t seem like it sometimes. Like you said, if He didn’t allow it, we wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. God wants to feel loved by us, the same way we want to feel loved by our husbands and our family and friends. We show our love for Him by trusting Him, by having strong faith in Him. When we know that He is good and that He loves us and that He has our best in mind, we trust Him, and He is pleased by our faith. He knows we love Him. We don’t just love Him because of what He does for us, we love Him because of who He is. He wants us to love Him that way. He’s a lot like us, isn’t He? Reverse that: We’re a lot like Him. Something about being made in His image, I guess.

    Great post!

    Thanks for the reminder. I will have Hope and joy, Hope and joy, hope and joy…..


  3. January 29, 2008 12:35 pm

    Thank you Ellen, I pray that God will give you the desires of your heart…very soon! :o)

  4. January 29, 2008 12:36 pm

    I knew you would understand and relate to this. I know that our struggles have been very similar and your trust in God’s timing has been a constant reminder to me to be faithful in all things. Thanks Penney!

  5. June 18, 2009 8:31 am

    I read this post again today, and it was like reading it for the first time. I have a friend who is just now learning to really trust God, and I wish she could read some of your posts. She doesn’t have Internet access, but I’m going to give her your blog address, so she can read it at the library.

    I really believe that God looks at our heart and how we carry it during the tough times. If we keep trusting Him, then something changes and grows in us. And we become more like Him. If we worry and fret through a trial, it doesn’t accomplish what it was meant to do.

    I am constantly taken to Psalm 37 to pray for my husband, and sometimes I’m led to read it to him. He tends to fret because wicked people seem to be getting away with evil things, but God has me remind him that they’re not really getting away with anything, and God will make things right.

    That is where our hope comes from. We know that God will make things right. And we know that He loves us more than we can comprehend. I keep quoting the verse He gave me for this year to myself and out loud. He gave us I Cor. 2:9 “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” This verse gives me great hope, especially since He gave it to me personally!

    Your blog is wonderful. By reading it today, I just had my devotions! Thank you for this beautiful ministry.


    • June 20, 2009 10:09 am

      Thank you Penney. I was told once by someone wanting to share my posts with someone w/o internet that they print them out. You might want to try that for your friend. Thank you dear friend. You are an encouragement to me.

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