Romans 5:1-5 (NRSV)
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
I am hopeful that today I will stay focused and accomplish something. I am hopeful that the dinner I put on the table this evening will be well received. I am hopeful that my community will do an ever-better job of educating our children to respect each other and be good stewards of the bounty they receive (and good problem solvers of the problems that we leave to them). I hope to face the end of life bravely and find reunion with my loved ones who have gone on before me. I hope that my faith in love will be redeemed.
On what do I base my hope? I would like to say that the basis of my hope is the sure knowledge that God loves me and my community and that I/we have some notion of what God would have me/us do to live Godly lives. But that knowledge and that hope sag when I look within me and around me. I see the forces of evil gathering strength.
I find Paul’s guidance in the fifth chapter of Romans to be helpful. God has done his part, and now it is time for me to do my part. Through His grace, He has given us undeserved hope. We can take that to the bank. We can boast about it. Find happiness in it. Because that grace is the power of God’s love, we have strength to bear up under suffering. God’s grace, God’s love, sets the conditions for us to hope, to suffer, to endure, to build character, to find further hope, and to do His work in our lives and in our world.
Lord, infuse my life and my relationship with Your hope. Give me real options to engage suffering for your sake, to build my endurance and character, and to find sustaining hope in Your love and Your message. Get me out of my too comfortable box. Amen.