Rejoice in Hope

February 29, 2024

Today, when this post is published, the Wartburg wrestling team is taking their best wrestler at each of ten weight classes to “regionals” for the second biggest event of the season. The Lower Midwest region, where the Knights wrestle, has 21 other teams who have also sent their best wrestlers to compete. Any wrestler who finishes in the top 3 of their weight class will then go on to Nationals. This means 19 guys in each of the ten weight classes will end their season this week, while only the top 30 (out of 210) will get to move on to the final event of the year.

From watching previous regionals, I can tell you it’s a high-stress situation. If a guy loses more than once, he is done for the year. This results in an intense energy from the crowd, because the outcome of each match isn’t certain until the final whistle. You would probably say that each cheering fan “hopes” their wrestler wins as they yell until they are hoarse.

That’s how we typically use the word 'hope'. We use it as a synonym for wishful thinking, deep desire, or even blind faith mixed with a bit of uncertainty. Sports fans 'hope' their team wins. Girlfriends 'hope' their boyfriend will finally propose. Kids 'hope' they get permission from Mom or Dad to play their video game.

But that type of 'hope' is not found in Scripture.

Real Hope

As he prepares to launch into biblical examples of great faith, the author of Hebrews 11:1 defines faith for his readers. As he does so, he simultaneously defines hope:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
Rejoice In Hope • Riverwood Church

The type of hope (and faith) the author is talking about isn’t a “Gee, I sure 'hope' this will come about but I won't be surprised if it doesn't” type of thing. Rather, it is a "I know this will happen" type of belief. A Christ-follower doesn't wish for heaven with a doubt-twinged heart. A Jesus-follower knows they will get to spend eternity in heaven because of what Christ had done on the cross. That assured knowledge is biblical hope.

So when the Apostle Paul tells Jesus-followers in Romans 12:12 to "rejoice in hope," he isn't telling them to be happy that they might have a chance to live eternally with God. Rather, they should be bursting with joy that they will get to spend eternity with God.

But this hope goes beyond just the afterlife. Christ-followers also have the guaranteed promise that Jesus is with them right now, the assurance of the complete forgiveness of their sin, and so much more.

So if you follow Jesus, rejoice in hope! Live in the knowledge that Christ died for your sins and rose from the grave, so you might get to live eternally with your Heavenly Father, which has already started.

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

News & Notes in Your Inbox

Receive Riverwood's "News & Notes" weekly email in your inbox. Submit your email address below and stay in the loop.

Subscription Form

Riverwood Church, Waverly Iowa

We are on a mission to help people love like Jesus loved and live like Jesus lived.

It doesn't matter to us if you:

  • are a Wartburg student or a grandparent,
  • vote Democrat or Republican,
  • are married, divorced, or single,
  • have gone to church for years or haven't been to church in years,
  • make $100,000/yr. or wonder how you're going to pay rent this month,
  • or fear your past mistakes make you unlovable to God or others.

No matter where you are in your spiritual journey, we want to help you become who God has created you to be.

About Us
Join Us Sundays Starting at 9:30am CST
Last Week's Sermon