At this moment in time we are beginning to dare to hope that as far as Covid-19 is concerned an end is in sight. We are seeing and hearing evidence that we can begin to plan a pathway from restriction towards freedom. Only time will show if we are correct, but for now we are hopeful, and it gives us a spring in our step.
During lent our thoughts turn to the hope that Jesus brings. we are seeing and hearing evidence that enables us to dare to believe that God does indeed love us and he has a plan and a purpose for our life that will bring contentment and joy as we put our trust in our Heavenly Father.
This week I have been studying Paul’s letter ‘to all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people’ (Romans 1:7). In chapter five, verses one to five Paul outlines how we live in hope when we look to God. Paul suggests we can experience peace through our Lord Jesus Christ, because ‘through him we can gain access by faith into this grace which we now stand’ (2). This peace enables to have pride as ‘we boast in the hope of the glory of God’(2). This leads onto a section where Paul senses that our suffering actually helps us to develop our hope. He talks about suffering produces perseverance which strengthens our character, which ultimately leads us into the area of hope (3-4). Paul expands on this theme later on in chapter 8.
Romans 8:24–28, 31-39 NIV
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In this passage of Scripture Paul highlights three aspects that enable hope to become a reality and impacts our perspective and outlook on life, and gives us a sense of joy as we peer into the future. Paul mentions the need for PATIENCE/a PATTERN to recognise/and a PRINCIPLE to rejoice over.
In verse 24 Paul recognises that in the midst of suffering for the gospel and having to face difficulty and hardship, we need to be patient. Often as we suffer we yearn for instant relief, but it seems that Paul knows life isn’t like that and as my mum often quoted to me when I was frustrated “Patience is a virtue possess it if you can!” This is not an easy position to adopt but hope patiently waits for God to transform the situation.
In verse 28 we have the familiar words which spell out a pattern for us to cling to. We hope that God hasn’t forgotten us or left us to cope on our own. Paul truly believed that God was in control and using every circumstance to benefit him. When you are going through harsh times it can be hard to feel God is ‘working for the good of those who love him’. But that is sometimes all we have to fall back on, if we lose the sense of God being with us and working things out it is almost impossible to have hope.
In verses 37-39 we have the incredible principle that fills us with hope. Whatever we can think or imagine it cannot separate us from the love of God. Even in the most difficult, overwhelming, and seemingly powerful obstacle cannot cut us off from the love of God. You need hope when facing extreme pressure which suggests otherwise. But the truth is that nothing can separate us from the love of God. I would encourage you to read the passage of Scripture again and remind yourselves of God’s wonderful promises and the ability he has to deliver them.
During the season of Lent and Easter we set aside time to re-evaluate our relationship with our Heavenly Father as we consider his salvation plan unfolding before our eyes. The more we contemplate the more our hope rises. As the hymn puts it:
I know who holds the future,
and He’ll guide me with His hand;
with God things don’t just happen,
everything by Him is planned.
So as I face tomorrow,
with its problems large and small,
I’ll trust the God of miracles,
give to Him my all.
That’s where my hope lies, where or what are you putting your hope in? Keep safe and please don’t give up hope in God.