Did you know that as a believer in Christ you possess all the hope you need in order to get through this life?
It’s a hope that’s based on absolute certainty that Christ is coming back and that He has prepared a place for all genuine followers of Christ. It’s a hope that believes the future is promising. And it’s a hope that believes God’s promises are true even in the midst of challenging circumstances and difficult people.
Jesus, on his very last night with the disciples, said,
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” – or, literally, “overflowing.” (John 15:11)
Jesus promises to give us the kind of hope that produces joy even when external circumstances aren’t going our way.
Sadly, many of us are still living as though we are hopeless. We might be in the midst of a difficulty – a broken relationship, a job loss, or an illness – and although we know that we have this hope, we don’t act like it. We possess it, but we’re not experiencing it.
So, how do we experience this kind of deep, true, eternal hope in everyday life?
This is what the Apostle Paul says after he has been beat up more than a few times, left in the ocean, and left once for dead:
“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, becoming like Him in His death, in order that I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)
What he’s saying is: “I don’t want the intellectual knowledge about God. I don’t want facts. I don’t want data. I want a deep, personal, intimate relationship with God the Father through the Person of Christ.”
Having intimacy with Jesus is key to moving from hope that we possess to hope that we actually experience.
I am going to suggest that Paul has said there are three things that we must know progressively in order to experience this kind of intimacy:
1. The Power of His Resurrection.This is the supernatural power in daily life. This is the life-changing power to overcome guilt and addictions, to forgive people, receive God’s forgiveness and to experience the very living Christ inside of us.
But the only way we can experience this power is through our weakness. First, we have to admit our lack of power to change in a certain area of our life. Then, when we fully rely on God for help, we can experience His strength.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul says, “God, you have said “no” to me when I have asked You to remove this difficulty, and you said to me,
‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (v.9-10)
2. The Fellowship of His Suffering. The word fellowship, or koinonia, means “to participate in,” or “to associate with,” and “to share.” It has this idea that as we are going through something difficult, there are people who are with us all of the way through the ups and downs. So that when we’re suffering, we experience God’s presence and love like never before.
3. Becoming like Him in His Death.“I am crucified with Christ.” (Galatians 2:20) The Apostle Paul is talking about the reality that is true of those of us who trust in Christ: The old “me” has died. I am raised with Christ. And the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now dwells inside of me. I now have complete access to God. And God the Father sees me like He sees God the Son, fully righteous in my position.
The more we can grasp this new reality – that we are in a spiritual union with God – the more we will realize that we have complete access to Him. He is present and near to us regardless of our circumstances.
Where are you at today? Where in your life do you feel hopeless?
Whatever it is, you can trust the Spirit of God wants to take the truth of God’s Word and help you not only know about hope but experience it. Begin by asking Jesus to help you to know Him deeper.
You can learn more about how to experience God’s hope and gain the confidence to get through the grind of everyday life with Chip’s series I Choose Hope.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip