For the rest of this week, let’s consider the four themes of the Advent season—hope, peace, joy and love—which are usually captured in readings during the lighting of candles on the Advent wreath each Sunday.
As odd as it might seem, Romans 5:1-4 ties hope among the believers to suffering:
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
I find it helpful to realize that suffering can have a point, so long as we continue in our faith that God’s promises have come true and will continue to come true.
Whatever we are experiencing, we learn to say in stronger and more authoritative ways, “Yes, this situation is bad, but it is temporary. God has promised that evil and all of its effects will be overcome.”
The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train. There’s no trick in store for us. The light of Christ is bearing down on us, coming to our rescue.
Hope also serves as a great evangelism tool. When people look at a Christian and say, “I want what that person has,” odds are the believer is exhibiting hope. People long to know that there is a potential happy ending to every story, and they particularly want to know how to ensure they can take part in that ending.
It is the basic role of every Christian to project hope where people may find themselves in despair. Where will we demonstrate hope today?
Lord, we don’t like to suffer, but thank you for being there in the midst of suffering, helping us to turn it into something good on behalf of your kingdom. Amen.