In Romans 12, the apostle Paul encourages believers to live together in love, serving one another as members of the body of Christ: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer” (Romans 12:10–12, NASB).
Paul’s charge to be “rejoicing in hope” refers to glad-hearted, celebratory confidence in an expectation being fulfilled. Such was the experience of Abraham: “Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations” (Romans 4:18, NLT). Abraham looked forward with joyful expectancy to the fulfillment of God’s promise. King David also rejoiced in hope, steadfastly anticipating the Lord’s salvation: “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay” (Psalm 16:8–10).
After Jesus sent out seventy-two of His disciples to minister to the lost, they returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” But Jesus told them not to “rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17–20). As Christians, our joy and hope must not be anchored in our accomplishments and victories here on earth but in the future expectation of heaven. Only then will we have the power to persevere through difficult circumstances, persecution, and afflictions in this present life.
Paul informs us that we can be rejoicing in hope even as we endure suffering, looking forward with confidence and joy to the Lord’s return and the glory to follow (Romans 5:1–5). The nature of our hope is joyful and sure because it rests on the character of Christ, the One in whom we place our hope. In Christ, we can trust that we will receive everything He has promised, even though we must wait for it. For now, we stand by faith in His grace, delighting in the knowledge that one day His glory will be revealed in us.
In Romans 8:16–17, Paul explains that the Spirit of God now dwelling in us reassures us we are God’s children and thus destined to receive an inheritance that includes participating in God’s glory. We may be suffering now, but we can be rejoicing in hope because “what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are” (Romans 8:18–19, NLT). By His Spirit, “we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope” (Galatians 5:5).
Paul likens the experience of rejoicing in hope to “groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8:22, NLT). An expectant mother endures the agonies of labor, but not without the joyous expectation that, after her travail, she will hold her precious baby in her arms. We “groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently)” (Romans 8:23–25, NLT).
We can be rejoicing in hope as we read Scriptures, which “give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled” (Romans 15:4, NLT). We can look forward “with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:13, NLT).
The Bible tells us to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; 2 Corinthians 13:11), even as we wait for the promise of His glorious salvation: “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8–9, NLT). Like Peter, we can be rejoicing every day in the living hope of eternal life: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).