Monday, January 23, 2012

What Hope Does

Romans 5:3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

A number of years ago I read an article about what is the greatest predictor of success in a young person's life.  The sociologists doing the study tried to determine what environmental factor or character trait would be the one thing they could point to as being the success trigger. 

They looked at things like economic level and stability, IQ, education level and so on.  But there was one factor that stood out above the rest.  Hope! 

In college students, they consistently found that regardless of preparation and study time, those going in to take a test or exam with a higher degree of hope always did better by a full letter grade. 

Author John Ortberg talks about his.  He says that when we are born, we are little hopers.  When we are babies. we get on our hands and knees one day and begin to rock back and forth hoping to crawl.  Then one day we crawl and begin trying to pull up on furniture hoping to stand and walk.  Then we do learn to walk and begin getting into everything in the house and Mom and Dad hope we will go back to crawling. 

But hope is what drives us to take the next step in growth and development.  So let me ask you, what are you hoping for?  I ask because a lot of us can slip into a life that is missing any significant amount of hope.  We get stuck in a routine and schedule where everything is predictable and there is no real need for hope, for dreams, for reaching out for something higher.  So what are you hoping for, dreaming about, reaching to grasp? 

Another thing the researchers found was that people who have higher degrees of hope are much better able to overcome difficulties, road blocks and set-backs.  Those without hope are much more likely to be crushed by these and to stop dreaming about or reaching for anything. 

It may be that you have not hoped or dreamed or reached out in a really long time.  But there is still hope.  For you and for me, no matter what we have been through or are currently experiencing, there is hope.  And that hope is the love of God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. 

When we receive God's love poured into us, and begin to pour that love into the lives of others, a wonderful thing begins to happen.  Hope is reborn.  Confidence levels go up.  Optimism increase.  Dreams come alive.  We begin to feel again, fully alive. 

May you know and fully embrace God's love poured into you.  May you in turn, begin to pour that love into those around you.  And as you do, may your life be marked by an irrepressible, life-giving hope.   

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