When I think of hope, I think of a combination of feelings and desires: expectation, patience, longing, and anticipation.
I longed for many different things as a little kid. I longed for my bangs to grow out quickly when I chopped them off with scissors – and believe me, that built patience. I longed for my soccer team to win our next game – that took less patience, because, admittedly, for a ragtag team of elementary schoolers, we were pretty good. I longed for cookies, too, especially chocolate-chip cookies that were gooey. I always ate the outer edge first and saved the middle for last.
As I grew older, I realized that these hopes were merely surface-level wishes, and they could
not satisfy the depths of my soul.
Listen to Paul speak to this in Romans 8:23-24: 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
Paul says that as Christians, we “wait eagerly” to be adopted as sons (or daughters), so much so that we “groan inwardly.” This inward groaning indicates the soul’s deepest desire, which stands contrary to my surface-level wishes. Paul then follows up with this succinct but jarring statement, “For in this hope we were saved.”
The very foundation of the Christian life is the hope that we will one day be eternally adopted by God. We stand upon this foundation because it penetrates to the depths of our souls.
A few verses prior, Paul emphasizes the importance of seeing God as a loving father:
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “‘Abba! Father!’” -Romans 8:15
This adoption gives us an intimacy with our Heavenly Father. He chose us. We did nothing to deserve Him.
Notice how Paul emphasizes that this adoption combats fear. We view Him as our loving protector, and as a result, this dispels our notion of fear. It follows that the depth of our understanding of our adoption by God is inversely related to our sense of fear…
But how does this work?
Because the deepest hope of our hearts is that somebody will unconditionally love us, that we won’t feel like a burden, that someone will find us adorable even when we wrong them, that someone will deem all of our weird tendencies and quirks not only tolerable, but endearing, and that someone will call us beautiful and lovely when we feel ugly and unlovely.
Once we experience this overwhelming love, this Spirit of adoption, fear is replaced. Fear is supplanted by love.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” -1 John 4:18
And that’s the kind of Heavenly Father we have – One who perfectly loves us. Listen to what He says about Israel, His Chosen People, after they sin against Him:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” -Jeremiah 31:3
“Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the Lord.” -Jeremiah 31:20
Oh, how sweet is our Heavenly Father! He calls each of us His “darling child,” and His heart yearns for us!
May we sit and rest in His adoption of us, for His perfect love will combat each and every one of our fears. We were chosen and adopted as children of the Eternal God, and this was on the basis of nothing we did.
Our adoption as children is the crux of our eternal redemption, and how sweet it is to be loved by Him.