My verse that I live by, may it be yours, too: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. And always give an answer for the hope that you have.” - 1 Peter 3:15
Most people are familiar with Romans 5:5. It’s one of the “encouraging verses,” one that speaks of hope that wins: “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts.” People quote this verse when they think of hope. However, it is only looking at the result, what hope does for us and through us.
Ironic as it sounds, I think Romans 5: 2-4 tells the bitter story of hope - the story of why we have hope. It sometimes is the part of the story we forget or wish we didn’t need to know.
You see, someone develops hope because it is needed. There is a problem, a brokenness, a failure, a tragedy, something that appears to be terrible for us to develop our hope. Romans 5:2-4 explains how hope is developed in us. “And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” That’s the good stuff!
The reason we are not boasting in ourselves is because we know we weren’t the reason our situation worked out. Paul goes on to explain that we have suffered because we know that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
During this Advent, my husband and I are celebrating 30 years of marriage. God has given us so much, blessing our family. But it wasn’t always easy. Our family has experienced illness, poverty, death, and the loss of two children. Most people don’t know our trials. We are more known for our successes.
People often comment to me about my optimism. When I look back over our family life, it is not the good times alone that have brought forth the optimism. Hope is the fruit of the life we live, but the tree of trials and suffering that grew the fruit is what allows me to stand firm.
I hope as you go through the trials of this life, and especially during this Advent season, that you too are reminded that you are developing hope. That if you cling to Christ and don’t give up on Him, He will give you a reason to have hope. You can believe that He will bring you through your trials and sufferings.
By Brenda Harting, Alexandria UMC, Northern Kentucky District