Even the most well-lived and successful lives will experience suffering from time to time. When suffering enters our life, it can take us by surprise and bring us to a very low place. Of course, the challenge for any Christian is how to make it through the suffering, the difficulties of life, and the waiting. The answer can be found in hope.
While reading Romans the other day, I was drawn to a familiar passage in Chapter 8. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Here, Paul is not speaking of a trivial kind of hope. He is talking about a burning hope. A hope that guides us and moves us. A hope that inspires us and lifts us up. An authentic hope.
Hope must be authentic. It must be connected to those things that are of ultimate importance in our lives. Authentic hope undergirds our faith and is connected to things that matter most: our future, our family, our relationships, our community. Hope is about striving for a better life and a better world. When we allow ourselves to contemplate hope that is authentically connected to things that are of ultimate concern, then it draws us closer God. It allows us to see beyond our circumstances. Hope reminds us to trust God and discern what it is that God might have us do differently to move beyond the difficulties we are facing.
This kind of hope is also not an idle thing. It is easy to miss this point of the text. The word that often appears in translation as ‘wait’ is modified by the phrase ‘eager longing’. The hope that Paul is referring to is not an idle, ‘sit around and wait’ kind of hope. It is an active and participatory kind of hope. Waiting eagerly means being willing and committed to doing something to bring about a different circumstance. It means participating in God’s plan to bring about transformation and success. Being eager means being willing to work with God to achieve the glory that God has in store for our lives.
Hope is about working with God, and hope is about believing. We must claim this hope over and over again. We claim our hope as being more powerful than our setbacks, tragedies, and difficulties. We know that Christ suffered and died, but Christ rose in power and glory. Life may be challenging at times, but we remain strong in our faith and we claim the hope that is our salvation and the transformation of the world. It is a hope that promises deliverance, and a hope that promises restoration.
This hope compels us and calls us forward. In this hope, we know that the difficulties we face are only temporary and that when all is said and done, we will recognize that in our endurance, we have emerged as being stronger in our faith. For as Paul reminds us in verse 28: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” This is our eternal hope. It is a hope that allows us to see beyond what is, and to rejoice in what is to come!