16. Hopeful

  1. Being a Christian in work is being hopeful. Following Jesus Christ in our work means being hopeful because Jesus is the hope, and He offers hope.384 The fact that Jesus is risen and we are with Him infuses our life, and therefore also our work, with hope. Following Jesus means that we can be hopeful in and about our work. From the Holy Spirit we receive the heart, wisdom, and strength to work hopefully.385
  2. Working hopefully means knowing that God is out there. When there is darkness at work, know that God is light; when there is much sin, know that God is good and perfect; when we are afraid, know that God’s children are safe with Him.386 When we are in danger of succumbing to temptation and pressure, we may draw strength from the knowledge that God lives. When we look forward to our work, know that God goes along and works with us. We never work alone, but God always works with us.
  3. Working hopefully means knowing that God sees everything.387 God sees everything in our work, even when no one else sees it. Our undiscovered gifts, our unappreciated work, and our forgotten names all matter. They matter to God. They are part of His masterpiece.
  4. Working hopefully means knowing that God provides everything. Where the world is dominated by uncertainty, may we be ensured by God. Where the world is dominated by distrust, we may trust in God.388 Where the world is dominated by change, may we know that God is stable. God in His infinite wisdom chooses to work in this world through instruments, and these are people, us. If we are an instrument for God, then God will use us where He wants to use us, make us work where He wants us to work, help us where He wants to help.
  5. Working hopefully means knowing that God gives strength.389 We do not get strength from ourselves or from those around us, but from God, who is the only true source of strength. Our work is not the result of our own efforts, but God’s work in us gives us our energy. What we do in work is an expression of God’s redemptive work through Christ. By God’s grace we have the power to accomplish all that God has in store for us in Christ, who declares that nothing is impossible for us.390 When we give God power over our work, it gives us power to do our work.391
  6. Working hopefully means knowing that God is working. God continues to work in and among us until His work is completed, which is when the day Jesus Christ returns. Only upon Christ’s return will God’s work be complete. God is always at work redeeming His creation from the effects of the Fall.392
  7. Working hopefully means knowing that God will take over our work. If we do our best to make the most of what God gives us, then we may surrender our work to God. If our work is of God, then He will take over our work. God does not let go of His work. When we are an instrument in God’s hands, we are liberated and at peace because the consequences of our work are in God’s hands.393 We need not be anxious in or about our work because we can place all that concerns us in God’s hands.394 Working is not hoping for the best; it is knowing that our work is blessed.
  8. Working hopefully means knowing that God will make our work pay off. God’s promise that our work will bear fruit gives us confidence that our work is worthwhile even in the most adverse situations. We can rarely see in advance how God can use our work to fulfill His promises, but God’s power goes far beyond what we can see.
  9. Working hopefully means knowing that God can change everything for the better. God can fix our weaknesses and forge our failures to accomplish what He Himself has prepared for us who love Him. We need not become despondent even if our work fails because we may surrender to God’s promise that He transforms all things to good.395 God can use even ungodly work for His and our neighbors’ glory. He can make valuable valuelesswork. God is not only a guardian or custodian of faith; He can provide salvation and renewal when we fail in our work.
  10. Working hopefully means knowing that salvation is with God. We need not despair when in our work we fail in the eyes of the people we work with; we are who we are as children of God.396 However, we should not blame our failure as being God’s failure. Self-reproach is also out of place. Self-reproach is a disregard for God for we should know that God works in us and through us. Hardships and failures can still spoil our work, but God’s response is not condemnation but redemption. Even if we may be bound to our work, in Jesus we are free.
  11. Working hopefully means knowing that God will put an end to all the injustice in our work. Injustices and wrongdoings in our work are temporary. This knowledge is a source of both comfort and challenge. It is a source of comfort because we are not responsible for correcting every evil in our workplace and because the evil we suffer at work is not the ultimate reality of our work. Evil is a source of challenge because we are called upon to resist evil within our spheres of influence. All evil will be completely annihilated; therefore, we need not become dejected and despairing about all the sins at work, for these are only temporary.397 In heaven there is no injustice and unfairness, no trickery and deceit, no waste and pollution, no power struggle and competition.398
  12. Working hopefully means knowing that one day everything will be restored. We do not have to be pessimistic but rather optimistic. Because one day Jesus will come back to this earth and make everything whole. Moreover, if God had been a pessimist, he would not have given Adam and Eve a second chance after their fall. The more there is evil and injustice at work, the more we can look forward to the new heaven and new earth where there will be no evil and injustice at all.399 The evil we see around in our workplaces points us to God’s goodness and His grace. We may be working with our feet in the mud, but with our heads in heaven. God’s curse of deterioration and decline entreats us not to think that we are immortal and do not need God. Our brokenness is good because it shows our badness and makes us dependent on God who is perfectly good. To the extent that things in the world are broken and we help fix them, they point to God. God will one day renew and perfect His entire creation, including work, in Jesus Christ.400 Christ reconciles all things to Himself.401 This means that our work can contribute to the redemption of all life. In fact, work is an important means of expressing that redemption. We may live and work in the knowledge of Jesus’ return. Adversity is relative; obstructions and limitations are relative; even sin is relative. We have a progressive faith: we believe that each day is a day closer to heaven.
  13. Working hopefully means knowing that in heaven everyone has the freedom to work from the core of their unleashed talents. In heaven we will be called to the higher service where we will work perfectly before God. We may look forward to the day when we will work in perfect harmony before God.402
  14. Working hopefully means knowing that the work we do in the name of God will find its true destination in the new heaven and new earth. God uses our ordinary, daily, earthly work to forge eternity. God is making the most forgotten, rejected, and despised person into an immortal heir of and hero in His Kingdom.403
  15. Working hopefully means knowing that in heaven there is eternal rest. Even if our work tires, exhausts, and burns us out, in heaven we can rest eternally.
  16. Working hopefully means thinking big. Just thinking small is not Christian. God is a big God.404 He has given us a gigantic task,405 and He is able to lavishly do more than we can even ask or imagine.406 That is why we are ambitious in the holy sense: we gladly want to do things that God wants us to do.

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:19, 1 Timothy 1:1
  2. Romans 15:13
  3. Psalm 27:1, 1 Peter 3:13-14
  4. Proverbs 15:3
  5. Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 7:24-27
  6. Psalm 46, Philippians 4:13
  7. Matthew 17:20, Luke 18:27
  8. Colossians 1:29
  1. Romans 8:28
  2. 1 John 4:15-18
  3. Matthew 6:34
  4. Romans 8:28
  5. Romans 8:14-17, Romans 8:38-39
  6. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  7. Revelation 21:1, Revelation 21:4
  8. Acts 3:21, Romans 8:19-21
  1. Philippians 1:6
  2. Colossians 1:20
  3. Ecclesiastes 2:4-11, Ecclesiastes 4:4, Ecclesiastes 5:19, Isaiah 65:21-23,
      Colossians 1:5
  4. 1 Corinthians 15:12-58
  5. Jeremiah 32:27
  6. Matthew 28:18-20
  7. Ephesians 3:20

Questions

  1. Which Bible verse about hopefulness do I find particularly appealing and provides guidance for what working hopefully means (to me)?
  2. To what extent do I agree with the above summary of what working hopefully means?
  3. Are there any missing elements in the above list of what working hopefully means? If so, which ones?
  4. How would I personally describe what working hopefully means for Christians?
  5. How would I describe concretely what working hopefully means for me?
  6. To what extent do I subscribe to the idea that hopefulness is an important characteristic/virtue for Christians in their work?
  7. To what extent do I subscribe to the idea that hopefulness is an important guideline/principle for the behavior of Christians in their work?
  8. To what extent is hopefulness an important virtue and principle for me in my work?
  9. How do I experience the importance of hopefulness in my work?
  10. Do I work to bring about hope? Do I do so wholeheartedly?
  11. To what extent can I work hopefully in my work?
  12. How often have I recently brought hope to my work?
  13. How hopefully do I do my work? How does it show?
  14. To what extent do I use hopefulness as a principle for my behavior in my work? Could I illustrate this using the decisions I have recently made in my work?
  15. When I look back at my working life, could I say that I have increasingly become more hopeful in my behavior?
  16. To what extent do people I work with think I act hopefully in my work? What have they said to me about this?
  17. To what extent do I think God thinks I act hopefully in my work?
  18. How can I become and act more hopefully in my work? How would I do this concretely?
  19. Which elements of working hopefully am I going to bring more of in my next working day?
  20. What am I going to say in a prayer to God about working hopefully?
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