Daily challenges interrupt our lives; some forgotten before we hit the pillow, while others are more daunting and continue to plague us in the days ahead. We are told that it really does matter how we handle these circumstances. Research confirms that optimistic folks fare better than those that our downcast. So, if the assignment is to be a ‘glass half full’ person, where do we begin? Perhaps it has to do with having hope.
I recently heard a wonderful message from Pastor Fred Goodwin, Church of the Messiah in Canton, GA. He reminded all of us that true hope extends beyond the good wishes we extend to one another:
“I hope you have a good day.”
“I hope you feel better.”
“I hope you get the job.”
“I hope it’s nice out tomorrow.”
We certainly mean these words when we offer them and appreciate the support of others when we hear them. Yet, when we are going through tough times, if our ‘hope’ does not have deeper roots, we are unlikely to sustain a positive attitude. Consider the following verse:
“. . . Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice 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 which has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5, RSV).
Because of our faith in Christ, we have access to the throne of grace and the promise of sharing in His glory. The love of God fills us through His Holy Spirit. How often do we think on this level when we are going through trials? I know I don’t. Or, how much do we remember that suffering should be seen as a blessing because it is what begins to lay the foundation for being people of hope?
Notice the sequence in the verse above: suffering, perseverance, character, hope. Hope that can carry us through is not easily acquired. We have to work for it. We have to wait for it. It is a culmination, an end result if you will, of a commitment to overcoming suffering and allowing God to build our character through our trials and tribulations. That’s a tough assignment. Suffering hurts, perseverance is hard. Having our character molded and refined can be brutal. If we can remember that while God may not be the author of our suffering, His passion is to love us through it and use it for our good. If these truths lay our foundation, our hope can never disappoint. As the old hymn states, it is then that I can be confident that ‘my anchor holds.’