Summary: Biblical hope is a matter of trusting that God’s promise is greater than my predicament
It’s easy to believe in God and have hope when I can see an answer to whatever situation I might be experiencing:
• If I go to the doctor and he or she prescribes some medicine and assures me that medication will take care of whatever health issue I’m experiencing, it’s easy to believe that God will heal me.
• If my finances are a little tight, but I know that I have a large bonus coming at the end of the month that will cover my expenses, it’s easy to believe that God will provide for my needs.
• If I’m having some difficulties in my marriage but my spouse and I have been seeing a marriage counselor together and we’re starting to see some positive changes in our relationship, I can have hope that God is going to restore and strengthen that relationship.
On the other hand, when I can’t see an answer, it’s not nearly as easy to have hope:
• If I go to my doctor and he or she tells runs all kinds of tests, but still can’t figure out what is causing my health issues, it’s not easy to believe that God will heal me.
• If my bank account is just about to be overdrawn and I’m unemployed and there just aren’t a lot of job possibilities out there, it’s hard to believe that God will take care of my needs.
• If my spouse just decides that he or she no longer wants to be married and is unwilling to even go see a counselor, it’s pretty hard to trust that God is going to bring something good out of that situation.
My guess is that most of us here this morning are facing at least one situation right now that looks hopeless because we just can’t see any answers to that situation anywhere on the horizon. In order to make sure that this message is really practical for all of us, I’ve left some space for you to write down one such situation that comes to mind. I’ll give you a moment to think about that and write it down.
A situation that looks hopeless to me right now is ____________________ ____________________________________________________________________
I want to begin this morning by praying for you and asking God to use the message this morning to help you find hope in the midst of the hopelessness that you’re facing.
The good news for all of us this morning is that no matter how hopeless my situation might look right now, God provides the ability to have hope even if I can’t see any possible solution to my problems right now.
Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 4 and follow along as I read beginning in verse 18:
In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
(Romans 4:18-25 ESV)
Before we begin looking at this passage this morning, I want to let you know that I’m not going to have time to cover verses 22-25 in this message. That is absolutely not because they aren’t important. So, as I mentioned earlier, we’re going to use the “Connections” time after this gathering of worshipers to cover those verses in some detail and I hope that you’ll stay and take part in that discussion.
Paul begins this section with something of an oxymoron when he writes that “in hope he [Abraham] believed against hope…” What Paul is doing here is to use a Hebraic kind of expression to contrast two different kinds of hope.
On one hand, there is the kind of hope that most of us are familiar with – hope that is really nothing more than wishful thinking. We approach hope from that perspective quite often in our culture:
• Someone buys a Powerball ticket and says “I hope I win the big jackpot” even though the odds of doing that are only 1 in 292 million.