“In hope, against hope he believed…” (Romans 4:18a)
No, Paul was not trying to be confusing when he wrote of using hope against hope. What he’s showing us is that there are two kinds of hope. And one is far stronger than the other.
The first hope involves the abilities and resources of the flesh.
The other involves the character and ability of God Himself.
At the conceptual level this is clear enough. But where shoe leather meets the street it gets rather slippery!
Our world is fueled by the energy produced through human hope. There is actually a lot of things that mankind can accomplish without any special help from God. Just open your eyes and step out the door.
Somebody created the automobile…and found a way to produce fuel to run it on. Profound! Except that now the fossil fuels are both hurting our environment and being depleted. That’s how the hopes that we create usually end up: costing us in the end. They are short-lived because they are mortal. They are based upon things that are consumed as we use them.
Consider the lady who has not been able to conceive. She has succumbed to hopelessness. Her hopes of a joyful future have been lost due to not having children.
There’s another lady who has a child, but hasn’t seen him in years. This mother’s heart is broken and hopeless.
Both having and not having a child can bring hopelessness.
Someone else is single but wants to be married. After years he has lost hope in finding a loving mate. Then there’s a woman, who though married is incredibly lonely. She feels locked in an unloving marriage and is hopeless of things ever changing.
Both not being married and being married can bring hopelessness.
Chances are that somebody in the world hopes for what you now have! They think if they only had your advantages they’d be truly happy. And yet you often feel hopeless too.
True and lasting happiness cannot be found in temporal things alone. Nor should our hopes rest upon things that are destined to perish. All flesh is like the grass. It dries up and withers. But God and His word endure forever.
The Bible says that in Jesus we have a hope “within the veil.” The reality of Jesus Christ’s resurrection and ascension into the Father’s immediate presence, coupled with His promises to ultimately secure the same for all His disciples, means our long-term future is very bright.
Set your hope on the glory and appearing of Jesus and on the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. These will not ultimately disappoint!