S196P9 – Growth spurts: hope

Rom. 5:1-5

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.

When I think of the times in life which have put me in a place of having to hold on to hope, I think of any time I have had to submit an application. Some of these applications were for jobs while others were for schools. In both instances, it is the process of presenting oneself to some person or governing body in the hope that one is found to be of some acceptable quality. Certain jobs I felt I had in the bag, but others certainly were no guarantee. The same was true about school. Whether undergrad or graduate school, there were some acceptance letters I thought I surely would receive and others which truly hung on a hope and a prayer. What I have found is that the measure of hope I have, the energy I put into my expectation, is comparable to how incredible I think the outcome would be if that somehow becomes reality.

The Spanish word which means to hope is also the word which means to wait and to expect. That is what we do when we hope, we wait with expectation of a certain result. Today’s scripture lays out the process by which hope is built in us, and we can see an interesting feature of that process. The tribulations we experience which bring perseverance, then character, then hope, are not singular or momentary. We are looking at a cycle in this Christian life. If there is any guarantee in our walk, it is that we will face trials and tribulations for the sake of the Gospel. This will continue over and over as we are continually transformed, which means that hope is being produced over and over. It is this compounded growth of hope which is necessary to hold on to our expectation that God will bring what He has promised when life makes it seem less and less likely.

Our measure of hope grows throughout our walk and is relative to the outcome in which we place that hope. I am hopeful that God will provide my needs of food and shelter today and tomorrow, but I do not think much about those needs because they seem completely possible. There are other things in which I place a greater measure of hope, one that is more active because those fires feel much hotter. Those include the hope that God will change certain circumstances in my life or deliver me from very real attacks of the enemy. As God takes us through our trials, He shows us that we can place our hope in him for all things with confidence. Hope proven secure in the small things will help us retain our hope in the greater things. Father, increase hope in us that we would wait expectantly for those things which seem more and more impossible every day.