20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
So back to that passage again that I love so much. I want to write about those two bold words above… “and hope.” I don’t think that this was just wishful thinking on Paul’s part. Wishing that perhaps he might in no way be ashamed. I think there was a certainty about his hope. Faith is the “assurance of things hoped for.” There is a certainty about biblical hope. A certainty that is rooted in the foundational event of biblical Christianity – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul had an unshakable hope because he had an unshakable certainty in his future. Listen to some of the things he says about “hope.”
- 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2
- 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
- I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you… Ephesians 1:18
- To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
- That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10
- 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
- Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
- Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
(I realize there is some debate as to whether or not Paul is the author of the book of Hebrews)
Hope is a wonderful thing. I’m not sure how people can live without hope. At least live intentional and purpose-filled lives. If for some reason you are feeling hopeless (without hope) – then I encourage you to think on these verses and let God begin the process of filling you with a hope that will transform you and give you a life and a future that you can be excited about.