Currently an all-encompassing focus on the corona virus (aka COVID19) pervades the globe. In its wake, fear and uncertainty about the future, spread from east to west. But today, my focus isn’t on fear, but on hope.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 NIV)
How does suffering produce hope?
Although I’m convinced God doesn’t take pleasure in our suffering, Romans chapter 5 tells us our suffering is purposeful in developing our character and building a foundation of hope.
According to the Bible, suffering is the direct result of sin. In Genesis chapter three, after Adam and Eve ate from the tree God forbade, they hide themselves. The Bible says they were ashamed of their nakedness. God calls them out and their exposure is complete. Their sin placed them at odds with God.
God then relates (in more detail than he did in his primary warning), the consequences of their disobedience:
- to Eve
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
- to Adam
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
I used to think God’s judgement was unfair to the rest of their descendants. But since then I’ve come to see how the self-centered decisions we make impacts the world around us. The corona virus is a prime example! Also consider divorce, sexual abuse, substance abuse, abortion, pollution, slander, murder, etc.
So, where is the HOPE?
Back in the Garden, God also spoke to the perpetrator of original sin, the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve to distrust God.
- to the serpent
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 NIV)
Jesus was the offspring who would ultimately give his life to reconcile us to God, but it took an offering – a sacrifice of suffering. It’s in Jesus’ resurrection we find our hope. Jesus crushed the head of the one who held us in bondage, holding death over our heads.
- We have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 NIV)
Our HOPE is founded upon the access to God we have as his beloved children through Jesus Christ by faith in his grace.
Our HOPE is founded upon the promise of our own resurrection and eternal life after our physical death.
Our HOPE is founded upon the knowledge that our suffering is purposeful and produces in us the same characteristics found in our Savior and our Father, God.
Our HOPE is founded upon the seal of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts with the love of God.
Our HOPE does not disappoint, because no-one and no-thing can ever separate us from the love of God – who is faithful and true and sovereign over all. (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)