I’m tempted to not want to remember 2020. Painful memories and disappointments that led to a lot of lamenting, yet with them, breakthrough. And for that reason, I reminisce. Not because I enjoy suffering, but because of what it gives birth to. The pursuit is not suffering. The pursuit is Jesus. And our suffering gives way to his likeness. Romans 5 has been on my mind lately. This idea of persevering. And not just that, but persevering in hope.
“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.” [Romans 5:1-5]
Disappointments endeavor to steal away our hope. More than ever this year I felt like I had to fight to remain hopeful. I’d tell myself it would be okay because God is good and he would make it right eventually. Which is all true, but after awhile I grew tiresome even in this, until the Lord gently revealed to me the area of self-reliance. Again, calling me back to a place of sweet surrender and reliance upon him.
I often equated perseverance with hardship. As if it’s something I had to strive for or work at. This idea of enduring just seems laboursome. But I’m learning that it doesn’t have to be.
Yes, long-suffering requires patience and trust, but what it doesn’t require is might. Paul, in Romans 5, talks about our sufferings producing a kind of endurance, the kind that in turn produces a character in us that gives way to hope. And better yet, a hope that does not disappoint! For it is the hope of the glory of God, in whom we have eternal peace and joy through Jesus. Believers, you also have this hope in you. Living and active! For God has already poured out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit IN US.
I want to encourage you – the thing that brings about suffering and causes you to lose hope is actually the very thing the Lord is using to produce a perseverance and new hope in you! This kind of character and hope is found no other way but through the persevering. There is no striving to endure, only surrendering to the process already at work.
Persevering in hope is near impossible when we look to own strength. But praise God we don’t have to! Praise God for allowing suffering. Praise his Spirit who is already moving through our sorrow as we submit to him. And praise Jesus for his redemptive work within us.