Friday, December 7, 2018
Hope for the Hopeless
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5
Unfortunately suffering and hope are eternally intertwined. Paul revealed a chain of developmental traits in this passage that begins with one of the most difficult spiritual concepts to grasp, “rejoice in our sufferings.” How can we be expected to rejoice in our sufferings? The key to understanding this concept is in the phrase, “rejoice in.” In fact, we are not expected to rejoice because we are suffering but rather to rejoice because of what suffering will produce—perseverance, then character, then ultimately hope. The Greek terminology in Paul's word choice implies a future event (hope) as if it has already happened. We can rejoice because of the hope we will have but also because it is as if we already have it. In addition, we not only rejoice in our sufferings but we also rejoice simply because we are a people of hope.
At Christmas, we often paint over the suffering in our lives with pretty green and red lights, perfectly wrapped presents, and tasty delights on our tables and but on the inside, we allow the loneliness and suffering to eat away at our hope. The Christ-child in the manger represents a promise that was made by God, that was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ, and will be completed in our future glorification in God's presence. Our current suffering is only evidence of this hope. When you hear voices this Christmas suggesting you quit, give up, and let go, don't listen but rejoice. Don't allow the enemy to send you into a depressive death spiral that will rob you of hope. Don't allow those around you to be robbed of hope either.