“But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”Romans 8:24b-25
Our grandchildren in California wait with wiggly anticipation for the circus that comes to town every August. They may not know the exact date, but they see the billboards that herald the upcoming event. They may not know everything that will take place, but they know it will be good. And when they see that Dad has their tickets, they are certain it will happen.
Hope implies an unseen and yet unfulfilled reality. Our passage describes a groaning we experience as we wait with hope for our adoption as God’s children. We often wait in painful hope for our frail bodies to be made like Christ’s. We long to reunite with those who have gone before us into that reality for which we hope.
The opposite of hope is despair, hopelessness that denies the reality of something unseen and tries to convince us that this world alone is enough. The suffering we experience now in awaiting a “not-yet” certainty is nothing compared to the agony of those who despair, and is not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (see 2 Corinthians 4:17).
“The spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children… heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:16- 17A). We long for this!