I should have been born in Missouri, the Show Me state. Most of my life consists of hoping for things I can comprehend and control. According to Romans 5, this way of living is backwards.
“Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
This is another one of the scriptures that we like to take out of context and miss the real point. Romans is about the power of God and living by faith rather than living by the do’s and dont’s of the law of Moses.
The word “Therefore” at the beginning of Romans 5 implies that the meaning after “therefore” has to do with the words that come before “therefore.” We see in Romans 1 through 4 that the hope of Romans 5 is built on the foundation of being justified through faith.
Justified, made right.
Faith, our response to what God reveals.
Hope, according to Merriam-Webster, is desire with anticipation. Not just a vague belief or wishing that something might happen. But a hunger for what we expect in the future.
In Romans 1:18ff, we see the result of living by what man envisions according to his own abilities versus what God reveals and provides through his divine assistance. Where is the hope in living for the pleasure that last only in the moment?
God offers hope that delivers a reality that will last forever. All the unknowns in life – suffering, sadness, sickness – are made perfect through hope.
Made perfect – given meaning and purpose.
To get to that kind of hope we must persevere through the unknowns. When we don’t persevere we give in to the pleasure of the moment.
We have a tendency to mix up the words hope and faith. Faith is always initiated by God. Faith is when God reveals and we respond to what he has revealed. Faith is not just believing or hoping something is true. It’s not a wish or even trusting in the character of God. It is seeing what God is doing now and acting on what God has shown us.
Hope is not always initiated by God. Hope is the desire for something to become reality. Desire can be good or bad. To experience hope that does not disappoint, we must experience dependency on God – the one who is the standard for measuring good. Dependency means acting on what God is revealing even when we can’t comprehend the outcome.
It is in suffering – whether it is horrific or simple questioning of the unknown – that we are forced to either to give in to our own desires or persevere until we find God’s desires. Without perseverance, our character is weak and inconsistent. Through perseverance, we experience the love of God and find our true character – who we are meant to be in God’s story.
I want to live with hope that makes suffering tolerable. Don’t you? Let’s not give in or give up. I’m convinced that through persevering we discover that kind of hope.