Updated: Sep 24, 2019
It's hard for me to even type that title. Not because I don't believe it, but because it overwhelms my soul. You see, it has been a season of crushing disappointment for me and I wonder how many of you have ever felt the same?
I was joking with a friend that I was really tired of being surprised. Not, "oh that's wonderful news!" surprised, but "I can't believe I didn't see that coming" surprised. And it makes me mad at myself for holding on to the possibility that circumstances will be different this time because that has not been my reality. My reality has been consistent with the truth that people will fail and let us down. Even those who seem perfect will one day prove their humanity and I am positive that inevitability holds true for me as well. After all, we are only human.
Praise God he holds the final word on Hope.
So, I came across this passage the other day and I know it was not accidental, but divinely ordained at just the right time because I tend to spiral. Anyone else?? I had one defeat after another hit me until I was convinced I just couldn't do it anymore. I was seriously contemplating a way to lesson my exposure or avoid it all together when God stepped in.
Romans 5 begins by telling us how because of the work of Jesus - his life, death and resurrection - we can have peace with God, and that we can stand confidently in this work as we look forward to future glory. Then the passage veers in a way that seems contradictory to our human understanding.
It reveals that we can rejoice when we run into problems. Why? Because they develop something called endurance. This endurance matures our character by making us stronger. Then it says something very unusual. That this strength of character that comes from developing endurance during our trials, strengthens our confidence in the hope we have of our salvation.
So, I'm underwhelmed and slightly confused just reading back through that so let's go slow.
Problems develop endurance in us.
Endurance brings maturity to our character.
A mature character makes us stronger.
That strength strengthens the hope we have in our salvation.
How? Because only God will use a problem in our life to remind us of who he is, what he is about and where our destination lies. In God's economy problems translate into security.
Only God would take a trial, a painful circumstance, a hurt, a discouragement, a disappointment and use that to strengthen our hope for our salvation. To strengthen our hope.
But that wasn't all God used to minister to me that day. That next verse struck my heart.
Romans 5:5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
Ah, the balm to my hurting soul. It was as if God held me to him and said, "Shelly, look. I know you've been disappointed again. I know you placed hope where hope doesn't last. I know you are so ready to be through this season, but I am using it to make you stronger and more who I need you to be, and haven't you figured out yet that these situations push you to me? And when you come to me, do I ever disappoint you?"
Oh my. "No, Lord. You have never once disappointed me."
See, God is incapable of disappointing us, of disappointing me. That's what makes him God. It's not that he won't - which he won't - but he absolutely CANNOT. Everything about him, everything he does, all his plans, all his purposes, will never lead you to disappointment.
If God springs a well of hope within you it's because he plans to fulfill it. If God allows troubles and trials to come your way it is because he is leading you to a place where he is, and when you find him he will not disappoint you. His hope never leads to disappointment.
I don't know what you've placed your hope in this season of your life, but I know that unless God is foundation that hope will only lead to disappointment. I can testify to you today that God has never once disappointed me. He has always come through. He has always been present. He has always protected and taken care of me. His faithfulness to me is overwhelming.
I can't explain what that simple verse meant to me in this season of disappointment. Every time I felt that sting of rejection or hurt, God allowed these words to wash over me. "Shelly, this disappointment has purpose. This pain has meaning. This problem will bring hope and that hope will not lead you to another disappointment because this path leads to me. You can trust me. You can believe me. You can lean on me. I will never disappoint."
Praise him I can rest in a God who will never, ever disappoint.
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. Romans 5: 3-5