Right after one of the “rejoice in trials” texts in the bible there is this little reference to hope (Romans 5:5). It says that all the hard stuff eventually turns into hope. He then reassures us that hope doesn’t disappoint. I like the translation, hope won’t let you down. The trouble with hope is that it isn’t the thing we long for, it is some measure of confidence that the thing will someday be. We use the word hope for all sorts of things like; I hope I can get a cup of coffee today, I hope I get a raise soon, or I hope they notice me. These uses of the word hope don’t guarantee anything to us. In some cases our confidence of a future situation is really high, “I hope I get to eat soon.” In other cases our confidence is extremely low, “I hope to beat my wife in a Fitbit step challenge someday.” Paul (the writer of Romans) wants to make sure we don’t think of Christian hope in these ways.
How is Christian Hope Different?
First, many blessings come during the hope season not just in the thing hoped for. I think that is what Paul is saying in this chapter. The thing in this text that we are hoping for is God’s “glory.” The glory of someone is the weight of their attributes. We get to enjoy quite a bit of God’s glory even before the fullness of His glory takes full effect.
Imagine for a moment you work for the best boss ever. Your boss is wise, kind, bold, and basically everything good. He/she makes you feel valued even when they have to challenge you and help you grow. Then you find out that the president (maybe a not so good president) of the organization you both work for is retiring and that your boss is the natural replacement. You are overjoyed at the prospects of your boss leading the entire organization, you are hopeful for that future. The cool part of the situation is that you get to work directly with your boss now, even while you are waiting for them to take their new position as president. You have current blessings and a promise of greater blessing when all your bosses character (glory) begins to influence the entire organization.
This is kind of what Christian hope is like. God’s glory is promised to have it’s full effect in the universe one day. His glory is the fullness of all his attributes. That means all of His goodness, love, wisdom, strength, justice, and more will one day govern the world completely. The hope of that future is great. The cool part is that we enjoy much of God’s glory today. The context of the little phrase I started this blog with is as follows: “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 (Romans 5:5).” Paul then goes on to remind us of the power and demonstration of God’s love. We get love today.
God’s love is unconditional, it isn’t based upon our efforts or actions (Romans 5:6-11). It is a love that sees our weaknesses and loves anyway. It is a love that is greater than we have ever known in this world. We get that TODAY! Yes, we long for a day when sickness, sin, and evil are completely gone but we get to enjoy God’s love today. We long for a day when suffering is no more but we get God’s comfort through suffering today.
The second thing that is different about Christina hope is how confident we can be in the future. The biggest flaw in the illustration I gave earlier is that God is already the president of the universe. Unlike the illustration, God is already reigning today. That is what we celebrate on easter. When Jesus died and rose again he confirmed his victory over sin and death. So why do things look so bad in the world? The shortest answer is God is patient, lovingly waiting for the world to acknowledge His reign. “And though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet (song: This is My Fathers World).” If you want to dig further into God’s current reign you can listen to the sermon series we did a few Christmases ago called, “Let Earth Receive Her King.”
The fact of the matter is, our hope (confidence of God’s full glory reviled) is sure. Our hope is not without current benefit either. We get to enjoy massive amounts of God’s glory today as Christians. And that is why hope won’t let us down.