Grounded in Hope
During our Good Friday worship time, Adam read from Romans 5. Verses 1-5 summarize the wonderful news of the gospel: justification, peace with God, access by faith into grace and rejoicing in hope of glory. And, more than that, Paul says, we can rejoice in suffering because suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope and we have hope because of God’s love through the Holy Spirit.
I was recently reminded that these words are promises that God delivers on, and are not merely a catchy memory verse. I have a dear friend who has a terminal illness and--unless God heals his body--will go home to be with the Lord soon, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters. He was diagnosed two years ago and has undergone multiple treatments, two brain surgeries, a stroke and several seizures.
As believers, he and his wife are living out this passage. They are justified, at peace with God, have access to grace and are rejoicing in hope. But, wait, there’s more! Amid the suffering, emotion, sadness, pain and impending loss, they are also rejoicing, showing endurance, having their character strengthened and possessing hope. The first part is salvation, a work of God’s grace. The latter, suffering that leads to hope, is also a work of His grace in their lives.
One of my friend’s primary concerns has been whether he is running the good race--whether he has glorified God and not wasted his illness. This type of eternal perspective can be attributed only to God’s grace on display. It is astounding to see God at work in their lives, bringing glory to Himself through them. Their hope is not of or in this world but in Christ’s work on their behalf and in the day when they will appear with Him in glory.
This same eternal perspective can and should be kept by all who believe the Gospel. Levels of suffering and trial may differ, but the impact of the Gospel and how it adjusts a Christian’s perspective should be universal. These verses in Romans are another reminder that we are not of this world. To have hope as a result of suffering requires an eternal perspective and comes only by His grace. God can be glorified in our trials because we are grounded in hope.