Having faith in God is complicated: in happy, positive times, it is easy to forget that God carried you along the way, and in difficult times it is easy to blame Him. I have looked at my faith from a narcissistic lense too often, desiring a reward for being faithful to God. I forget that faith is the reward. Believing in the Lord is what gives me peace and joy, hope and power. In happy times or times of any trouble, we are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4). Let us rejoice in His holy name!
And we pray:
Holy, holy, holy Lord. God of power and might. Heaven and Earth are full of Your glory. The hope I feel for the future with You knows no bounds, my Lord, and I aim to please You with every moment of my life. Forgive me for my transgressions and doubts, but I pray to You with a resolve that I did not feel before. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Joy, peace, and hope are three marks of a Christian, and this verse shows the way in which they are intermingled. Joy, peace, and hope all come from God, by the power of his Holy Spirit. Paul writes this verse as a blessing and a prayer over his readers, including today’s believer.
How can God fill his child with joy and peace, and what is the part played by the Christian? It is to trust in him. Much of the church was enduring persecution in the day the epistle was penned. The hope, joy, and peace were readily available to those who continued to “trust in him.” Today, there is still persecution, and even where there is not, the believer is still harassed by satan and endures the kingdom of darkness until the return of Christ. How are they to endure? By trusting in God.
In Romans 15, Paul holds side-by-side commands and blessings. For instance, he commands the church to “bear with the failings of the weak,” (Ro 15:1) and also speaks a blessing: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro 15:5-6). He commands a certain “attitude of mind” while praying that God would give it to them. This all comes from the power of God.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Romans 15:13
#1 “May the God of hope…”
God is the God of hope. No matter what the circumstances, there is always hope in God and in his ways and his promises. For the Christian, hope is not some wistful dreaming, it is faith and assurance that the God who is who he says he is will always be faithful and true to his nature. Our hope comes from God who is “the God of hope.”
#2 “…fill you with all joy…”
Our joy is from God. It is not the glee of momentary pleasure. It is a happiness that runs deeply through every fiber of our being. Our joy is the joy of the big picture that motivates all our action, service, and worship. It is the acknowledgment that we are made for joy as divine image-bearers of the joyful God of the universe, saved by the blood of the joyful Son of God (Ps 45:7). Joy is our birthright. A Christian without joy is missing some of the point of existence and should seek to remedy the situation.
#3 “…and peace…”
Not only does God give joy, but he gives perfect peace. Christ died to give us peace with God and men. In one sense he claimed that he did not come to bring peace, but division (Mt 10:34). But this is concerning circumstances. Christ certainly did not have peace between himself and his enemies, but he always had the perfect tranquility that comes from abiding in God.
#4 “as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope…”
Paul describes a blessed cycle. The God of hope wants to give you hope. He does this by giving joy and peace, which leads to overflowing hope! This comes from “trust[ing] in him.” Rather than having to focus on joy or peace, the believer puts his or her effort into trusting. The rest follows as a result.
#5 “…by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit of God is the power for everything about the Christian life. The Holy Spirit empowers ministry, strengthens faith, and gives the peace and joy that overflows in hope. The Christian can do absolutely nothing apart from him (Jn 15:5).