Are you or a loved one passing through a season of suffering? Perhaps you’re wondering, “Where is God in all this? Why do innocent people suffer? Why do bad things happen to good people? If God loves me, why is He allowing me to go through this?”
Sometimes, it’s hard to understand why we experience hurtful, painful experiences – even when we love God and are wholeheartedly serving Him. Without trying to minimize your pain, I want to encourage you that suffering does not just randomly happen in our lives. God does not bring suffering our way – it comes because we live in a fallen world because we have an enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. But God wants to develop our character as we go through fiery trials. He wants to ultimately cultivate the virtue of hope in our lives through the pain of suffering.
“We exult in hope of the glory of God. Not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:2b – 5 (NASB)
Hope is the final destination of suffering. It’s the endgame.
When we pass through seasons of tribulation – of fiery trials – and when we partner with God in the process, looking to Him, pressing in to hear His voice, and responding as He directs us – then those fiery trials become a refining fire, developing perseverance, which develops character, which develops hope.
What is Biblical Hope?
Many times, you’ll hear people say, “Well…I hope so…” or “I hope to get this project done today.” Hope seems to mean “maybe” or “I want to” when it’s used in this way. But Biblical hope is something entirely different!
Hope (Elpis in the Greek) means a joyful and confident expectation of what is certain! It has the idea of anticipating something with pleasure, fully trusting in the One in whom we confide or to whom we flee for refuge.
Hope is like when you put the kids to bed on Christmas Eve. They’re just all tingling with excitement! They have a confident expectation that when they get up in the morning, there’s going to be goodies in their stockings and gifts under the tree. They’re not thinking, “Well, maybe it’ll be there.” No! They’re joyfully wondering what the gifts will be, not if they’ll be there!
We hope in God’s Word – His promises of abundant deliverance.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His Word do I hope. My soul waits for the LORD, indeed more than the watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD, for with the LORD there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption.” (Psalm 130:6-7)
Creation eagerly hopes with us!
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:18-23)
We hope because we overwhelmingly conquer (through Him who loved us).
“What then, shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-19)
Hope is active NOT passive!
I think what’s coming through all of this is that hope isn’t passive – it’s not just sitting around waiting for God to do something. It might include that, but it also is understanding who we are in Christ, our access to the throne room and intimacy with Him, and using what He’s given us to accomplish what He wants to be done. And that puts us in the place where we have that confident expectation — that hope! Hope is active! It’s not like we’re sitting at the bus stop waiting for the bus to arrive. It’s more like the handmaiden looking expectantly at her mistress, waiting for her directive on what to do. That’s what wait means in a Biblical sense. “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until He is gracious to us.” (Psalm 123:2)
Hope does not disappoint.
“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
Perhaps you have experienced disappointed hopes – when something you longed for was not realized. But Biblical hope does not disappoint – it brings an overwhelming consciousness of how much God loves us – it springs from His heart and is poured out through the Holy Spirit in a flood to our heart! God wants us to know how very much He loves us, and because of that love, He’s just not going to leave us twisting in the wind, feeling deceived or disappointed or confused. He’s going to finish that work He started! We can have certainty about our future!
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