Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5 [Italics Added]
There was point in my life when I just stopped hoping. I had been through enough disappointment in my life I came to the conclusion that it was my fault for having expectations in the first place. I decided to stop hoping so that I would no longer be disappointed again. Have you ever been disappointed because you hoped for something and it didn’t happen?
Hope is the fervent and constant expectation of an unseen reality. I came to realize, at some point, that hope wasn’t my problem. It was who and what I was putting my hope in. Our culture has reduced the concept of hope into a mere projection of our personal desired future. The problem is that nobody promised us our desired future! Nevertheless, we force ourselves to have “positive thoughts” in an uncertain future. We pretend to have control so that we feel better even if it is just an illusion.
The Bible, however, points to a different concept* of hope which is tied to God’s promises and given in the context of God’s community. While we tend to hope for what benefits us personally, the truth is that it’s not about us. It’s about God and what He is doing in and through His people. You get to decide if you going to align yourself with Him or not but you do not get to decide how things are going to turn out.
This news should come with great freedom and relief! Your future and the fulfillment of your hope does not rely on you or on those around you. In fact, it isn’t even focused on you! As long as you stay focused on God and His kingdom, you will never be disappointed because God Himself is constantly at work accomplishing His goals.
God is in control and He is always good. This is something you can place your hope in even in the midst of uncertainty. In fact, it is precisely in the midst of fear and uncertainty, during the darkest times of your life, and when all known possibilities have been exhausted that God typically shows up. Remember “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character, hope.”
The tribulations in our lives can be a scary place to be but they become the training ground where we grow in leaps and bounds. We may not know the end but we can keep the end in sight because we know the one who is in control. Take heart! Put your trust in God and have the courage to hope.
“We lived in a world where people don’t know much about hope. We know about wishes. The whole Christmas period is full of wishes. I wish this, or I want that. It’s very concrete: I want a toy or a car or a new job…But hope is precisely to say, ‘I don’t know how God is going to fulfill His promises, but I know that He will, and therefore I can live in the presence with the knowledge that He is with me.’ I can then know and trust that the deepest desires of my being will be fulfilled. This way keeps the future very open.” -Henri Nouwen