"But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently" (Romans 8:25)
In a world that seems ever increasingly dark and hopeless, as Christians our hope is based upon the promise of God. This promise is our salvation. While we have already received the first fruits of our salvation, the promised Holy Spirit, we are still waiting for the rest of the promise to be fulfilled. Because of this, we groan inwardly and long to be reunited with the Lord in heaven, waiting for our adoption as his children to be revealed ( Romans 8:23 ). However, based on this hope we can wait with patience and with purpose until we see our final eternal redemption.
The Amplified Bible puts it this way, "But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure" ( Romans 8:25 Amp ). Patience is not an inactive thing. Many misconstrue the meaning of patience to denote that we passively endure everything thrown our way as we wait to go to heaven. But this is not the picture painted for us in the Bible of how we are to wait. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" ( John 14:12 ). Jesus didn't sit back and go through life passively or aimlessly, he broke the power of darkness everywhere he went. Then he commissioned us to do the very same things and gave us the Holy Spirit to enable us to do it.
Waiting patiently with composure separates us from the world. Having this hope inside of us brings us peace in a world where trouble and heartache abound. Jesus reminded us in John that the Holy Spirit whom he's given us is the first fruits of our redemption and part of his job is to keep us in a state of peace. "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" ( John 14:26-27 ). Knowing this, we can be encouraged that we can live separately from the world waiting in patience and in hope for the Lord's return.
Paul instructs us in this very truth to encourage us to remain hopeful with an eternal perspective in mind. Paul himself longed to be reunited with Christ Jesus, but knew that remaining in the world was more beneficial for everyone around him. "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body" ( Philippians 1:23-24 ). He could speak this because he knew that waiting patiently did not mean waiting passively. He knew that by remaining in this world meant salvation for those he came in contact with. He was so convinced of this that he exclaimed, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" ( Philippians 1:20 ), in other words, for me to go on living in this body means that people would see Christ and be forever changed.
While we wait in patience, it is important to understand the reason behind it so we don't lose hope. Peter explained these things to his brethren who were looking for the Lord's return, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" ( II Peter 3:9 ). He went on to say, "Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation... ( II Peter 3:15 ). And so it is necessary for us to keep this in remembrance while we wait for Jesus to return. He is not willing that any should perish and so in His grace he waits for others to come to him. Since he has commissioned us for this specific purpose, he is waiting on us to fulfill this great commission, in order that he might come back and redeem a full and powerful church.
So hope is necessary for life, hope with patience will keep us focused on the task at hand. A few of Paul's concluding thoughts in the book of Romans seem very fitting for today's thoughts, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" ( Romans 15:13 ). Today it is my prayer that you rejoice in the hope to which you were called. May you experience the peace that only God can bring and may you abound in the power of the Holy Spirit to be Christ in this world, amen!