By Kate Ritchie
Christians are to be a people of hope, but what does hope look like in a person? We can often misconstrue hope by reducing it to a cheerful disposition. How does the Bible help us model hope for our children even when things are difficult?
The brokenness of sin in this world has made suffering a certainty before the return of Christ. Christians, however, have a sure hope that we have been saved and have a future where Jesus will come and make all things new. God, our Creator, talks about who we are in a multifaceted way: heart, soul, mind, and strength. God has created us as complicated beings that, no matter what our culture teaches us, cannot untangle our souls, emotions, minds, and physical bodies. I believe that being hopeful could include a particular disposition, but I also think that hope must be something we practice with our bodies.
Here are four ways to practice hope in your home based on Romans 5:1-5,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
1. Practice Hope by Peace
Many in our world are without peace. The brokenness of our world is a result of sin and rebellion against the true King, Jesus. Sin has fractured our world, hearts, and homes; even our desires bend toward temporary happiness instead of eternal joy. Often, we sing of peace at Christmas, but it can be a time of hurry and striving.
If you have received grace and pardon for sin through faith in Christ, you now have peace with God through Jesus! We no longer have to strive or work for acceptance or to be made clean; it is given freely to us through Jesus. Christ gives us true peace. Peace to live in light of the love of God. We practice this peace when we rest in Jesus for acceptance, love, and worth. We can put aside striving for those things in our strength. When we lay aside striving, we practice peace in our homes and before our children. Practice peace this Advent season by resting in God's love; this is actually a way to practice the hope Christ has given you.
2. Practice Hope with Your Words
Romans 5:2 says we "rejoice in hope" even in our sufferings. Rejoicing is a physical act of praising or boasting about something with our words. I'm not talking about trite words of toxic positivity! This practice is telling those around you about the goodness of the One you trust while being honest about your difficulties. Suffering can cause us to speak of our despair either by how we are handling things on our own or how we are relying on Christ in the midst. Practice using your words to tell your family how you depend on Christ, even while suffering.
3. Practice Hope with Nearness to God
Christmas can be a time of pain and unmet expectations. Sometimes when we are hurting, we tend to pull away from what we need most and push out the people that love us the most. When we need hope, we must consciously draw near to God for comfort and help. Verse 3 says that we are to "glory in our sufferings." The action "to glory" in something is to see the beauty in that thing.
Sometimes it's hard to see the beauty in the things in our life that hurt. Still, if nothing else, you can marvel at the mystery that God is "near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Ps. 34:18). Our Redeemer has a way of using things that the enemy meant for evil for our good and his glory. Suffering can build perseverance and character if we move toward Christ especially during challenging times. Our pain can still serve a purpose, giving us a tremendous amount of hope when we suffer; we bear witness to hope in Christ for our families to see.
4. Practice Hope through Your Countenance
Finally, Romans 5 shows us that we can practice hope because his hope "does not put us to shame." Countenance refers to how we carry ourselves. It means the face you put on and reflect out to the world. We must be people who make a practice of not walking in shame. There is a unique temptation towards shame when we face challenges and suffering. Shame was our countenance before Christ, but the cross also defeated our greatest shame and gave us new life. God's perfect love for us has the power to cleanse us of our shame, but we must practice this way of thinking so that we walk in God’s love for us. It's crucial to consider what we reflect because our children will learn to walk as we walk. As Christian parents, may we seek to reflect the hope of Christ as he heals our greatest wounds and failures.
Psalm 34:4-5 says,
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Practice walking as one who has been set free walks in the radiance of the love of Christ. Often walking in this way takes practice.
Faith is trusting and practicing that which is true (God and his words of hope). Often Christians must practice faith well before that faith is a feeling. My prayer for you this Christmas is if you need hope, you would ask God for that hope and the strength to practice hope even in the midst of what you might be feeling or facing. You can bring all that feels broken or dark to Jesus and receive his hope this Advent season. His Word says that, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:5). Faith in Him is trusting and practicing in his hope. This glorifies Christ and is a proclamation of the Gospel to your home and a world in need of hope this Christmas.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Rm 15:13).