April 12, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Ephesians 1:17-20 (NRSV)
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.
As Christians, we can have confident hope, but this doesn’t mean everything we hope for will happen. We can hope for healing that doesn’t come as we had wished. We can hope for a world in which God’s justice prevails over evil, even if it seems that evil is winning. The resurrection of Christ does not guarantee that everything we desire will be given to us. Yet it does guarantee the ultimate victory of God, the uniting of all things in Christ, the reality of a new heaven and a new earth.
This devotion is part of the series: Why Easter Matters.
The Bible is full of hope. In the New Testament, for example, the word “hope” appears in one form or another 76 times (in the NRSV). When we read about hope in Scripture, we might misunderstand what it means. Why? Because our use of the word “hope” differs from the biblical usage. For us, hope is wishing for something we want no matter whether it is likely or not. For example, when the weather report predicts a 100% chance of rain for tomorrow, that means it’s likely I will not be able to take the hike I had planned. But I can still hope for dry weather even if it’s not reasonable to expect it. Hope, in standard English, doesn’t depend on reason or evidence. (In fact, the hike I take most often is pretty much impassable these days because we’ve had so much rain in California this year. I am truly hopeful that I can do this hike before too long!)
Biblical hope is different. It’s not simply a matter of emotion. Nor is it wishful thinking or a positive attitude. Christian hope is absolutely not believing something which we know, deep down in our hearts, will never happen. On the contrary, biblical hope includes deep conviction. It is confident expectation. It is an attitude toward the future that is based solidly on what we can know today.
What is the basis of Christian hope? First of all, it’s the very character of God, revealed to us in manifold ways, most of all in Jesus Christ. Thus, in Ephesians 1, Paul prays that we might know God better so that we might know hope better. In particular, the more we grasp the wonder of God’s calling, the more we realize all that God’s calling entails, the more we will be people of confident hope.
Moreover, our hope is rooted in the fact of the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we know that God has won the battle. Sin and death have been defeated. Our future is assured. Thus, as it says in 1 Peter 1:3, God has given us “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Our hope is alive because Jesus is alive.
This does not mean, of course, that everything we hope for in this life will happen. We can hope for healing that doesn’t come as we had wished. We can hope for a world in which God’s justice prevails over evil, even if it seems that evil is winning. The resurrection does not guarantee that everything we desire will be given to us. Yet it does guarantee the ultimate victory of God, the uniting of all things in Christ, the reality of a new heaven and a new earth. Even when life is hard, even when we wrestle with disappointment, our confident hope for the future sustains us and fills our hearts with “an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8).
How do you see the difference between hope as we speak of it and biblical hope?
To what extent do you feel confident about God’s future?
Does this confidence make any difference in how you live now?
Ask the Lord to increase your hope, your confidence in his future. Then be attentive to ways that God is answering this prayer.
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of confident hope. Thank you for the assurance that comes when I remember your mercy, your grace, your faithfulness. When my heart struggles with discouragement or despair, may I remember who you are and how you have called me to yourself. May I be inspired by the vision of your future. Thus, may I have hope, confident hope in you. Amen.
Banner image by Thanti Riess on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Called to Hope.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.