Express your Hope – Reclaiming Joy

Hal Elrod was a normal guy. He didn’t think of himself as special and considered himself to be an average man. Hal became dissatisfied with his life, and he determined within himself to set and achieve a goal. Upon completing his goal, he felt untouchable, on cloud nine. This feeling lasted until he was hit head on by a drunk driver. The wreck left him in the hospital in a coma for six days and eleven broken bones. When Hal woke up, he discovered he had permanent brain damage, and would never walk again according to his doctors.

This didn’t defeat Hal though. Hal made a conscious decision to be grateful for what he had and live each day with purpose. Because of this, Hal defined his own life instead of the medical doctors. He disproved their predictions and didn’t just walk again, he ran! Hal shares his story in The Miracle Morning. It has provided hope and inspiration to millions, but what if I told you for the Christian, there is something more promising, more hopeful, and more inspiring that we can gain strength from each day in order to reclaim joy!

Time Out #1:

  1. What do you think about Hal’s story? Does it inspire you? If so, how?
  2. Has there ever been something in your life that has crushed your spirits? Is so, what was it? What did you do to overcome it?
  3. Do you know someone personally who has a story similar to Hal’s? If so, who and what is their story?

Reclaiming Joy

Today, we will wrap up our series on RECLAIMING JOY! I hope that it has been beneficial for you and your faith. We live in a world that has so many stressors, anxieties, and pressures that can zap us of our joy. We began this series by defining joy and reflecting on our current reality and examining the past. However, our joy is not rooted in the current nor the past, but the future. This is vitally important! While we must see God where we are, remember Him in our past, we must not forget Him in our future reality, our hope! Below is the entire acronym for this series, and today we end with my favorite: Express Your Hope! 

R – Reflect on Reality

E – Examine the Past

J – Jail Negativity

O – Open Genuine Conversation

I – Initiate Prayer

C – Confess and Claim Christ

E – Express Your Hope

Express Your Hope

hope

Read Philippians 4:4–7. This passage has served as a driving factor on our journey to reclaim joy. In the last devotional we discussed confessing and claiming Christ. We must be willing to profess our faith in Jesus no matter what. This means that joy is not circumstantial, but it is Christ essential. Today, I want us to take claiming Jesus and telling others about Him to a whole new level by simply asking “why.” Why would you confess and claim Christ to others around you in the face of a joyless situation? It could be because of a fear of rejection. Or maybe because you are worried about disappointing God, your parents, or someone else. It could be because of a need to prove your worth. Whatever it might be, I would suggest the best, and most God-honoring reason is because of a love for God that is found in our hope. 

Understanding Hope

Theologian Desmond Tutu defines hope as “being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” When we place this understanding of hope within the context of Philippians 4:4–7, we understand that despite the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in, hope is still prevalent. God is faithful. God is working. We can still rejoice, and it is this hope that we can share with others. 

Our is in Christ!

Where do faith and hope meet? Read 1 Peter 3:13–17. I want you to focus in on verse 15. Peter states that we should always be ready to provide a reason for the hope within us. This gives us a clue to the basis of our hope. It is Christ and the gospel message. Peter goes on to explain Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us sinners in verse 18. Salvation is our hope!

Colossians 1:23 calls this the “hope of the gospel.” Paul earlier said this is a “hope laid up in heaven.” 1 Peter 1:3 says this is a “living hope.” Ephesians 1:12 says this “hope [is] in Christ.” Hebrews 6:18 says that this “hope [is] set before us.” Romans 12:12 says that we can be “rejoicing in hope.” I say all of this to say that hope moves our eyes forward past the joy-robbing present. Whether that forward movement is into a greater spiritual maturity (1 Peter 1) or a reminder of our eternal home with God (Colossians 1), hope moves us forward. When we can move forward we can be reassured our joy is secured in Jesus the Christ.

Express your Hope and be Joyful

When we feel like joy is gone, remember to look forward. God is there to reassure us of hope, and Paul says powerfully in Romans 5:5, “hope does not put us to shame.” When life becomes tough, when things seem unstable, remind yourself of hope. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Whatever you find yourself going through, know your identity and hope rest securely in our infinite creator. We can have joy! We can reclaim it back from the world around us! Why do you have hope?

Application Questions:

  1. What is hope? How does the gospel play into hope?
  2. How would you tell a friend about the hope that is within you?
  3. Does hope help us refocus and find joy in difficult circumstances?

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