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
Paul wrote this to the Christians in Rome as a blessing after exhorting them to be unified and accepting of one another.
Not unlike the Romans, God is attempting to teach me about the power and freedom of acceptance and trusting Him with the question marks in my life.
This preposition-laden verse catches my eye because Paul is saying a lot of important things in one poorly crafted sentence.
(Can I say that? Can I say his grammar was awful and the English translators need some lessons on when to use commas? I digress.)
It strikes me that God has a job–to fill us–and we have a job–to trust in Him. As we trust, He fills. The two actions are meant to occur simultaneously.
It doesn’t necessarily follow that if we don’t trust, He won’t fill. However, I’m willing to bet that more often than not we have to get the ball rolling by trusting Him first.
Because of what God is filling us with: all joy and peace.
Dare I say it is probably impossible for us to experience all joy and peace while not trusting Him?
So we start trusting Him, and He fills us, and we skip off into the sunset, hand in hand, in this beautiful unending bliss of simultaneously trusting and filling forever and ever, amen.
At least that’s how it is supposed to be.
I find it interesting that God doesn’t only fill us with joy or peace but with both. Again, perhaps we can’t have one without the other.
I also find it interesting Paul asks God to fill the Romans with all joy and peace. Not some; not a lot. All.
In the same vein, God fills us with these things. He doesn’t just offer a little of each; He gives us as much as we can take.
Paul isn’t shy about praying for an abundance of awesomeness. Maybe I shouldn’t be either…
So we trust God; God fills us with all joy and peace.
But why does Paul want this for the Romans?
Well, the obvious human answer is because joy and peace feel good. Paul must want the Romans to live their best lives now…or then, as the case is.
Maybe. But the scripture says more.
We trust God; God fills us with all joy and peace, “so that you may overflow with hope…”
Paul wants the Romans to overflow with hope, and their trusting God is the first step on the path to get there.
When God fills us, on account of our trusting in Him, we overflow with hope. He fills us with all joy and peace, and then we flat spill over with hope.
I can’t remember the last time I brimmed with hope. I have to admit it sounds appealing.
Why would Paul want the Romans to overflow with hope?
Maybe because it’s a privilege Christ-followers have that is worth taking advantage of…non-believers don’t have access to the True Source of hope.
And/or maybe because when we reflect hopefulness to the world, they are attracted to Christ in us. Our overflowing with hope is an evangelism tool, if you will, which sounds like a win-win to me.
What’s interesting is the cooperation between God (the Father) and the Holy Spirit in this process. God does the filling with joy and peace, and the Spirit empowers the overflowing of hope. I don’t really know what to do with that observation, but I’m sure Paul stuck it in there for a reason.
All this to say, trusting God sounds like a pretty good idea.
I know, anti-climactic.