“and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 5:5)

I thought of this verse immediately when I was asked if we would do a reflection on a Bible verse that has to do with HOPE.

This is the verse that reminds me that Hope, that God, is always with us.  That God’s promise of eternal life is true, this gives us hope when we feel hopeless.  No one can take this hope from us, because the Holy Spirit has poured it into our hearts, it is with us forever.

Even though I knew this is the verse I would probably do a reflection on, it didn’t stop me from looking up other verses on HOPE through BibleGateway, my bible app.

I entered the word HOPE into the search engine and 180 verses came up!  97 verses in the Hebrew Scriptures, and 83 in the New Testament.

The Book of Psalms had the most with 34, with the book of Job running in second with 18 verses.  This surprised me, because the book of Job doesn’t strike me necessarily as a book of hope. 

But as I re-read Job’s story, Job does not lose hope in his Lord.  The journey for Job was not easy.  The book of Job explores the story of a good, innocent man who suffers terrible loss.  Everything he has is destroyed, his wealth, his beloved children, and his health.

The book of Job explores questions such as: “Why do the innocent suffer?”  “Where is God in my suffering?”  “What kind of world is this?

I am sure we have asked many of these questions during this past year, with the pandemic, the election, civil unrest, and much more. 

Throughout the book of Job, Job holds his innocence, even when his friends accuse him of sin and calls him to repent.  His suffering is not the result of sin, and his friend’s accusations only add to his suffering. 

What the book of Job does for me is remind me is it is ok to Lament!  Lament over all we have lost.  But it also teaches me about the power of prayer.  Job continues to pray to God.  Job, in his anger, his suffering, in his anguish continually calls out to God.  He still knows that God is with him.

And here is the other thing that I remember about the Book of Job.  At the end, God takes Job on a grand tour of the cosmos.  God does not speak of Job’s suffering, but instead takes Job’s focus off himself and helps him see the world around him.

The world as God describes it, is a good, ordered creation, but it is also given a certain freedom.  God takes delight in the creatures – the sea, the wild animals.  God cares for them as God also cares for Job.

In the face of his suffering, Job is invited to see and delight in the world God has created.  Job is invited to live in it with the same freedom God gives all God’s creatures.  In spite of his great suffering, Job accepts that invitation and chooses to live and love again. 

I believe that we too are invited to see and delight in the world God has created, and to choose to live and love again.  To plant ourselves in God’s HOPE.

Yes, 2020 was a trying year.  We had our time of anger and anguish, our time to lament.  But now is the time to focus on the HOPE that God has given us in Christ Jesus.  Remembering that HOPE does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.  And it is this HOPE in which we stand. Thanks be to God!

 – Tammy Barthels