The Hope of Suffering

Hope is so very much needed. The apostle Paul even says that, along with faith and love, hope is one of the three things that will last. So, if it is desired, important and eternal, it is vital to know where hope comes from.

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 has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

First, hope is given to us. God does it all. The hope of those who follow Jesus is in Jesus himself. That what he accomplished in his life, death and resurrection is sufficient for our needs and available in our sinful state. Full stop.

Secondly, hope is developed by our actions particularly in difficult times. As the apostle Pauls says above, suffering leads to endurance, endurance leads to character and finally character leads to hope. As I wrote last week on the blog, God “does” and we “do” too. Hope is no different! God does his part and we then are invited to do our part. Hope being the end result of difficult times (ie.suffering) is something so very helpful to hold on to. Character and endurance being developed along the way is a home run too.

While this does not explain suffering, it goes a long way in helping us see how God brings beauty from ashes, light from darkness, and life from death. Quite frankly, there may be no satisfying answer of the “why” question about suffering. But, as we look for mercy in the midst of it, this can bring some comfort.

As someone who has the great privilege to being welcomed into hospital rooms, funeral homes and many places of suffering in between, I have seen first hand Romans 5:3-5 come to fruition. How I pray that I have done my last funeral, that sickness will be a distant memory, that marriages would only flourish and not end, but that is not likely in this life. But I take hope that with Christ, suffering does produce hope with a side of endurance and character thrown in for future. One more reason, as we shared in Sunday school this week, that “life is better with Jesus.” Not necessarily easier…but infinitely better.

Faith in Christ reframes and changes all of life. What a great message for the world in this day when suffering seems to be everywhere we turn.