Exciting Announcement! It is with much joy in my spirit that I share this with you: Holy Spirit has stirred me to start an audio version of this blog. You can find it at the bottom of this post! 😀
I will be releasing one about once a week, and have already been enjoying this endeavor immensely. In addition to the player below, you can also find it on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. Check it out and make sure to subscribe and share with a friend who needs an encouraging word! (Links below 🙂 )
God’s kind of hope does not ever disappoint. However, there are other kinds of hope that might. Today, you and I, and everyone else alive, are all facing some kind challenge. If we anchor our hope to the specific outcome that we would prefer for each circumstance, we could certainly face some disappointment. If you have lived for even a few months on Planet Earth, I’m sure you have observed by now that situations don’t always turn out the way we would wish. Often, too, the timing of our problem’s resolution is drastically different from what we had envisioned. Sometimes it feels like our hope has been dragged through the mud, at best… and at other times, crushed completely.
So what is the kind of hope that doesn’t disappoint? We find the answer in our passage for today, where Paul describes for us the matrix of hope. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3-4, NIV).
What he expresses here is one of the most surprising truths found in Scripture. We could boil these two verses down into the following startling phrase: suffering produces hope.
Wow, what?? How is that possible? You mean, Lord, that when life becomes painful, hope is the result? Wouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t that verse state instead, “Suffering produces disillusionment?”
It would, if these words had been penned within the systems of this world. However, in the Kingdom of Heaven, suffering really does ultimately produce hope in the inner depths of a disciple of Jesus. Let’s take a look at how.
As the passage explains, suffering produces perseverance. In the midst of trials, the person ardently dedicated to the Lord clings to Him in faith. He or she presses doggedly forward, eyes fixed on Him. The result over a prolonged season of endurance is the next phase described: perseverance produces character. The young believer very gradually becomes a seasoned, mature disciple. Deep roots have grown down into the revelation of God’s nature. In refusing to give up during trials, this individual has truly developed into a friend of God.
When it seemed like everything else was crumbling, she or he had no other choice but to press into intimacy with Him. (On the one hand, they could have chosen bitterness and anger and despair instead. On the other, I am referring to a true disciple, someone who longs for Jesus more than anything else in this life. For a true disciple, there really is no other choice than to cry out for more of Him). So, as this hungry worshiper passionately, stubbornly drew near to Him in the midst of the pain, something incredibly beautiful was happening.
“God… poured His love into [their] heart by the Holy Spirit” (v. 5). This was how they were able to persevere. In the middle of the ache, they received more and more and more of His love. They got to profoundly, exquisitely know His heart. They grew deeper and deeper into the understanding of His unfailing kindness. They became “rooted and established in love” (Eph. 3:17).
And thus, character produced hope. Real hope, God’s kind of hope, is rooted in who He is. It is born out of the revelation of His goodness. It is anchored not into a preferred outcome, but into the unseen realm; into the immeasurably solid bedrock of the very nature of God.
Ultimately, only our amazing God can produce real hope in us. It’s Holy Spirit’s job to take us through the process described so succinctly in Romans 5:3-4. He is the One who sanctifies us. He is the One who gives us the power to endure. He is the One who purifies our character. And when all else seems hopeless, He is the One who breathes joy unspeakable and full of glory into our spirits, until we are brimming over with life abundant.
As we cling to Him, this is His promise. He will bring forth unshakable hope within us. He will work it into the fabric of our very nature as sons and daughters of God.
This is His mission. He is faithful, and He will do it.
Can you identify with the different phases described in Romans 5:3-4?