Through Him [Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but 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: 2-5)
Hope. It is something that we have all experienced in our lives, whether it’s hoping for that one particular birthday gift, that good grade, that good diagnosis, that positive pregnancy test… hope is a real part of life. But for believers in Jesus Christ, hope takes on a new meaning. It becomes part of our DNA as it is inseparable from the faith that accompanies salvation. With faith, we enter into grace, which brings us hope.
The greek translation of hope is “fixed expectation.” Our expectation is fixed on Jesus, waiting for Him to be who He says He is, accomplish what He said He would, and fulfill what He promised. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and our salvation, a line between faith and hope is drawn. One this line is our journeys… journeys of suffering, learning, surviving, growing, and transforming. While all of this is the product of the difficult life on Earth, the result is a group of expectant individuals who are waiting on our Savior.
Amazingly, our Sovereign God knew that staying hopeful would not always be easy in this fallen world, so He gave us the Holy Spirit. Because we each have the Spirit within us our hope does not put us to shame. We never have to feel foolish in our hope or defeated by its process because we have the presence of Jesus in our hearts until the day we see His face. We boast in our hope, we wait in our hope, we endure in our hope, and we worship in our hope. This is what you will see in this month’s stories. Hope in the midst of disease, addiction, fear and suffering. In different ways with different words, each of our stories can be summed up by these verses in Lamentations:
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.
(Lamentations 3: 19-25, emphasis mine)
Friends, as life crashes down on you, never forget this world is the place where hope is built, not fulfilled. The object of our hope is the One-everlasting, and one second in His presence in Heaven will remove decades of suffering on Earth. THIS is our Hope… let us build that up in one another as we encourage one another each day.