February 15. Romans 8:24-25. Suffering Part 5: Suffering and Hope.

Romans 8:24-25. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Hope is confident expectation. It’s not a pipe dream or mere optimism. It’s not a slogan or a cliche. It is waiting within a reality.

We were created to hope. We were born into suffering and hope was born into us. We know there’s something more out there for us. More than just this life. We know it because we long for it. If it didn’t exist why would we want it so badly?

We were saved into hope. In this hope we were saved. Our salvation is “already but not yet.” It is not complete. Our total liberation has not yet occurred. It is therefore full of hope.

We live in a state of hope. The indwelling life of Christ by the Spirit guarantees for us that there is something better coming. The indwelling life of Christ gives us the expectation of something better. The indwelling life of Christ grows the longing in us for something better.

Often, we feel inoculated against hope. Life is so often full of disappointments that hope is a heartache just waiting to happen. We either give in to the despair of abandoning all hope, or we presume upon hope and take matters into our own hands.

Often, we place our hope in lesser things. Our hope finds its way on to the trillion lesser things in life that were not designed to bear the weight of our longings. Even Jesus never used the word hope or called himself the hope of the world. Why? Because he knew that the people at that time and in that place would place their hope in him in all the wrong ways.

Our hope is Christ. Our hope is not the teaching of Christ, or the example of Christ. It is Christ. His life. Our transformation into his likeness by his indwelling life. Our union with him. “To live is Christ” is our hope.

Hope gives us sight in the darkness of suffering. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? Hope will not be limited to what we can see. Hope will not call what is visible the final word. Hope will hold God’s hand in the dark. There is a reality in Christ beyond the visible suffering, the felt suffering, the rational suffering of this life. There is faith beyond sight.

Hope produces active waiting with patience. If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Patience is “steadfast endurance.” Our hope is not passive. It is active. Our passive justification produces an active sanctification. Hope leads to rebellion. The rebellion against evil, sin and the dark forces that seek to destroy mankind. To hope is to fight. To hope is to strive. To hope is to endure. Until our Hope returns.

Suffering has meaning because of hope. Our suffering won’t produce shame. Our suffering drives our survival. How do we survive? Hope. We live or die where we hope. And, as those that are in Christ, we live? Why? Because our hope is not in hope. It is in the objective reality of Christ. A person. A life. A death. A resurrection. An imputed righteousness. Because our hope is in the most meaningful of all things – the life of Christ – our suffering, which forces us toward hope, will never be meaningless.
Romans 5:3-5. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

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