Hope in Romans Chapter 5

On Tuesday 7th August 2018, I led our family Bible Study, based on Romans 5:1-5 (a passage which has had special place on my heart for many months):

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.

Main verses for discussion: Romans 5:3-4:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 

In this passage we see how important hope is, and where it comes from.

When life is throwing the mucky stuff at us we need to remember that, in order to gain hope, there is a process we need to go through; God does not help us to avoid problems, but aids us through them – when we allow Him –  so we can be better prepared for Heaven.

Sufferings are a part of living on this earth. By working through our sufferings (pain, losing a job, sickness, financial ruin or whatever we are struggling with) we can gain perseverance, but that doesn’t happen without us, well, sticking with it and persevering! As we master perseverance by trusting in God not abandoning us we can see our character develop; as we trust in God increasingly, our own fears and failures can be subdued by our growing trust in our Creator God to guide us, shepherd us….

And with those few elements we arrive at hope.

How do my sons trust that I love them? I show them. How do they come to rely that I care for them? I show it by my actions. Thus, hope is born and grows.

Unlike me, however, God will NEVER let them, or you, down.

His ways may not be our ways, but His plans are [indeed] to prosper us, not harm us. We just  need to remember that prospering us is not the same as us getting lots of stuff, but that He will cause us to prosper in things of far greater worth and value – our hope in Him; our character becoming more like Jesus; our perseverance leading us to lean into problems rather than run away from them; the suffering we endure.

In a recent sermon Jeff Lucas put this wonderfully well. My [really bad] paraphrase is that we, or anybody else, should never be happy that we are suffering; that misery has fallen upon us. However, we should rejoice with joy that God loves us and does not abandon us.

In our weakness we are made strong. Not because of us, but because of loving heavenly father, who is gentle enough not to force Himself upon us.

He waits until we ask.

God can not do evil; He can not tempt us; He can not cause us to suffer harm – that is against His nature.

But – and what an important caveat to insert here – God can use those things which we face, to His glory, and to make us more ready for heaven – a phrase Corrie  Ten Boom so wonderfully penned many years ago.

When trials come upon us, God is there – not with a magnifying glass to look at how we squirm. But with a kind hand to steady us, but equally gentle enough to let us walk away from Him, as much as that hurts the Father.

So, let us endure our sufferings by looking up to heaven, knowing that God can use all the messy stuff that surrounds us – and feels so overwhelming at times – to help us grow in those eternal fruits – our hope in who Jesus was and is; our hope in our Father God loving us; our hope in the Holy Spirit walking with us and guiding us each and every day.

Andy


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