And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:3-5
They say bad news comes in threes, but sometimes it seems to come in multiples of threes. Doom, despair and agony have been on me and nearly everyone around me to the point I almost have dreaded answering the phone or reading a text. “I lost hope long ago,” a loved one recently told me.
Hope, in the Christian sense, is a “strong and confident expectation.” It can also be synonymous with trust, which is an expression of faith. So when we lose hope, we lose faith. When don’t see God’s hand at work, we lose sight of God. So lost hope is not just a crisis of discouragement; it is a crisis of faith.
Lost hope hung like a pall over my little world. Sickness, tragedy, despair and brokenness had become comfortable, like tattered old shoes. But there’s a time when those tattered old shoes have to get tossed, and it was past time to kick sickness, tragedy, despair and brokenness out the back door.
Have you ever noticed how, when you reach that moment at which you ask, “Where are You, God?,” He shows up and says, “I’m right here”? So it began, first in the lives of some precious friends who desperately need encouragement. Theirs may be small victories, but they are treasured ones that make the challenges that are sure to come more tolerable. My heart smiles for them.
Then came news from some friends who had sought a small miracle. The miracle probably felt more distant with time, but God was near. He saw, He heard, and He acted. For them, this will truly be a year of joy, and I rejoice with them.
The next day brought news of the Lord’s favor in the lives of a faithful couple. Such favor seemed unlikely in the heat of their trial, but greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Again I smiled, knowing how many I loved were smiling as well.
The same day, we held our collective breath as we awaited news on the tenuous health of a loved one. But the Lord did more than guard her life; He saved her soul. Now she will be able to shout, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O grave, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
Those two days were not without their challenges, and challenges continue to face us and those we love. But our faith is strengthened. Our God is still on His throne. Our hope is renewed.
Hope does not disappoint because God does not disappoint. That doesn’t mean life is without its disappointments, because the fabric of life is stained by sin and sinners. But if we let Him, God continues to pour out hope into our hearts by the ministry of the Holy Spirit through sweet reminders that He is there, He is good, and He is love. Even if that’s all we have, it is more than enough.