Preface: Isn’t it crazy how God orchestrates beautiful stories that sometimes overlap? Well on Tuesday, Natalie wrote a passage on the same Scripture passage. I asked Kate, our fearless leader, if she wanted me to rewrite this piece, but we both believe that God ordains these stories and laid these verses on our hearts for a greater purpose. So let’s dive back into Romans 5, but with a similar-yet-different spin!
Hope is tricky isn’t it?
I used to think of hope simply as a joyful wide-eyed wonder and belief in something we cannot see. I pictured an exuberant child waiting for beloved parent to return home from a long trip. Sparkling eyes full of expectation with laughter that fills the room, counting down the minutes until the door opens and mom and/or dad appears. Or perhaps a child going to bed hopeful for a snow day the following morning; head on the pillow with eyes wide open staring out the window, heart fluttering with anticipation and hope of pancakes and no school.
This was what I pictured when I heard pastors and professors talk about hope. And I have to tell you, I was right about the actual definition, but my practical application was lacking.
Hope can look like that, but it is also so much more.
One of the things I love about Scripture is how it is living and active, capable of teaching and instruction (aka smacking some sense in my stubborn head). Read Romans 5:1-5.
“Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
Do you see what causes us to rejoice in hope of the glory of God? Look closely.
Now look again.
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.”
Hope doesn’t look so easy now does it? For those of you who are currently in seasons of suffering, it feels trite to tell you too “count it all joy” because you’re learning how to truly, deeply hope. So I’m not going to belittle your pain by doing that. But I am going to tell you this.
Hope is Hard.
It is messy.
It takes work (endurance + character).
And sometimes it hurts.
You see, quotes about hope can feel cliché because we’ve cheapened hope by making it a feel good mantra. But Gospel-centered hope is so much more than a starry-eyed-happy-go-lucky belief system. Rather hope also has a deep, gut-wrenching, faith-building side that I never acknowledged before. It’s a crying out in a dark wilderness that our God is a God who redeems and restores and will one day right all wrongs, even when we cannot see the road ahead and are weary from the road behind.
The furnace of suffering has the capacity to burn away so much, but amongst the ashes and smoke, a spark of hope comes to life. My life is a testament to the truth that suffering produces some of the fiercest and purist of hopes. And a hope birthed in suffering causes us to rejoice. Not in ourselves. Not in our current circumstances, but in the life and redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
And that work can never be broken, undone, or put to shame.
I love the verses that follow…
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:6-12
Maybe today you find yourself in the midst of suffering, can I encourage you by resonating with you and imploring you to hold on to hope? Perhaps Satan’s lies are too much for you today and you believe that there’s no way out of the pit you’re in. Will you let me be the sister who holds your arms up and proclaims that there is nothing too big or too broken for our God to fix? Our hope is rooted in redemption and reconciliation; it’s the theme of our story and the chorus of our song. You are not too far gone and there is no place you can go to escape our Father’s love. Christ died for the ungodly, for all of us. Today, will you rest in that truth and let it be enough to push you towards hope?
Praying for you & cheering you on!