We need to be reminded of the unfolding story of hope.
“Wait” is an ugly, four-letter word in our vocabulary. Our fast-paced, cyberspace mentality wants to avoid waiting at any cost. Yet, the original word for “hope” in Lamentations 3:21 is defined as “to wait.” It is in those times of waiting that our character is strengthened, and the glory of the Lord is revealed through His love being poured into and out of our hearts.
The New Testament writer, Paul, experienced intense, personal suffering. He ministered during a season of religious divisiveness and governmental persecution. Yet he knew the secret and the cycle of hope. Listen to his words to Jesus’ followers, who could have easily despaired if they had not put their hope in the love of God.
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).
We may benefit by asking ourselves, “Are we hoping for relief from our suffering, national tranquility, or church/ministry growth?” Or, is our hope that “. . . the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14)?
If you have ever dealt with a water leak or flooding in your house, you know the power of water as it diffuses, seeps, or pours through every crack and tiny opening it can find or create. We experienced this one time when our washing machine malfunctioned.
This is the implication of Paul’s message to the Romans. God’s overflowing, abundant love will be diffused through every area of your life, so your hope will not be disappointed in crushing times. He uses a verb that indicates an action occurred in the past with results continuing to the present, emphasizing the abundance of God’s love.
Paul’s emphasis was not on tranquility of the heart but a relationship with God. We may feel more like lamenting rather than rejoicing in our suffering, but we must persevere and allow Him to lovingly transform our character through repentant prayer and grateful worship.
Ultimately, we will always cycle back to hope when we recall with Jeremiah and Paul that God’s compassions never fail, and He continually pours His love into our lives.