Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:1-5
As I let it slip from my fingers, I smirked at my partner and said, "Let's HOPE we don't make scrambled eggs!" Along with the rest of my science class, we were standing on top of our middle school's roof participating in the classic egg drop experiment. The goal was to create a structure that would protect our egg from cracking after being dropped from a great height.
We made plan after plan after plan. We used tissues, bubble wrap, lots of tape, and cardboard. We attempted to create the Fort Knox of containers. But, it wasn't until we let go that we found out whether our hope was misguided or not. Would we be let down or get an A on our project?
Unfortunately, the yoke was on us - it cracked. We often think of hope as a "maybe." We utter that word as if it was merely a wish or simply a dream. Take a moment and think about the times this word pops up in your conversations:
I HOPE I get the promotion.
I HOPE this relationship works out.
I HOPE it doesn't rain tomorrow.
I HOPE __________ (fill in the blank).
From selfish desires to sincere longings, we've all had dreams, aspirations, and wishes. And, unfortunately, we've all had our hopes dashed or encountered situations we'd consider utterly hopeless. The job goes to someone else. The once-promising relationship fizzles. The storm makes an appearance.
So, when we read in today's passage that "hope doesn't disappoint," we can't help but scratch our head and think Paul, the author of Romans, got this one wrong. He has to be mistaken. Had he forgotten all that he experienced?
Paul wrote a majority of his letters while in prison. He had been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, and was constantly in danger (2 Corinthians 11:16-33). Time and time again, Paul pleaded to God to take away his struggles, and every time he was greeted with the answer 'no.' (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) If that's not a recipe for disappointment, I don't know what is.
But, Paul remains adamant that no matter the circumstances you face, hope doesn't disappoint. In fact, He goes as far as saying that when we face adversity our character transforms and our perseverance grows.
There's a big difference between "hope for" and "hope in." Our hopes tend to reside most often in the "for" category. We hope FOR our situation to change. We hope FOR things to go our way. We hope FOR a little reprieve from the demands placed on us. It's not wrong to have hopes like these. But, the problem arises when our hope FOR replaces our hope IN.
Our hope IN Christ never disappoints. He is with us always. His love is consistent and never fails. It's the same yesterday, today, and forever. A statue of limitations doesn't exist on the hope He provides. Placing our hope IN Christ doesn't guarantee a life void of troubles, sorrow or suffering. But, even though our hope FOR might leave us scrambling for answers, our hope IN Christ supports and holds us up along the way, which in turn cushions any blow this broken world delivers.
Where do you need to be reminded and trust that your hope in Christ will never leave you disappointed? Why does this circumstance come to mind?
God, thank you for being faithful to me. No matter what I face, You are with me and for me. May I place my hope in You and You alone, knowing that I will never be let down by Your grace, mercy, and love. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.