We boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
It’s a shame when people talk about hope like it’s something devoid of substance, an ill-informed detachment, or something that silly optimists do by closing their eyes, crossing their fingers and wishing really hard. It’s a shame when people talk about hope as a passive thing that naïve people do.
According to the bible, real hope is never naïve. In fact it is earned by those passing through the most painful and discouraging parts of their lives. The folks who know the most about pain and struggle are the best prepared to hope and to inspire hope.
The apostle Paul gives a progression that leads to hope, but starts with suffering. Suffering produces endurance, endurance leads to character, and those with real character are ready for real hope.
It’s people who know what Paul knew about suffering, endurance and character who most fully know Paul’s words about hope to be true – that hope does not disappoint, because of God’s abiding love, which does not spare us suffering, but outlives and overpowers suffering.
I often say, “I’m sorry,” when someone tells me about some great difficulty they’ve come into, and emotionally, I mean it, because I don’t ever want a person I care about to suffer. But I’ve seen enough grace poured out to and through people living through the hardest season of their lives, that I know God is at work, even though it hurts, so damn bad.