Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we 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.
This commonly quoted passage struck me in a new way this morning.
So many times along our personal journey with struggling kids, we were afraid to HOPE. Afraid if we hoped that someday the addiction would end, the lies would stop, the outbursts would dissipate, the stealing would end...or heaven help us, there would be a heartfelt apology for ANY of it, we would be disappointed when it didn't happen-disappointed, broken, ashamed, duped, etc, etc...
But, Romans 5 actually says, "hope does not put us to shame"...isn't that interesting? Have you ever thought about how unfulfilled hope carries with it an element of shame? As if, we have been made a fool of.
How could we have been tricked (AGAIN) into thinking that things would change? ...How stupid/gullible/blind could we be?
(And then, the anger and bitterness start to bubble to the surface..)
But, if we look back a couple of verses, it says..."we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings"...because they produce endurance, character and finally HOPE.
The key to not being put to shame by our hope, is making sure we are putting our hope in the right thing----namely, the GLORY OF GOD.
Did you get that??? Read it again, just to be sure...
In our struggles and sufferings, we have a choice about what to hang our hope on...we can either hope the person will change, the situation will change, some magic help will come along, that our family will suddenly start smiling and hugging while rainbows and unicorns dance around their heads...and then be disappointed and ashamed at our lack of ability to make that magic happen...
We can put our hope in the GLORY OF GOD (which is a guarantee, BTW)
How do we do that???
Let's take our son's current drug addiction and homelessness as an example---Needless to say, our hearts are broken, we are scared he'll die, the whole family misses him terribly, we're angry, scared of the person he has become, disappointed, and so much more. This was NOT what we had in mind when we prayed about adopting him from Ethiopia at 9 years old and felt God give us the green light to go ahead. We would never have imagined that God was saying, 'Yes, bring him home so he can lie, cheat, steal, get involved with gangs, spend time in juvenile detention, never finish High School, blame everything on you, and ultimately end up high and on the streets...this will be AWESOME!'
Looking at that list of accomplishments, we have been tempted many times to think that we must have heard God wrong. How could he ever want that???
The answer hinges entirely on our perspective...
From one perspective, we have ended up looking like horrible parents who are walking wounded. ---in other words, hopeless fools.
But the other perspective is that this has very little to do with us EXCEPT to cultivate endurance and character...and HOPE in the fact that God will be glorified!
WE can't know how our son's story will play out. He might decide to go to rehab, rebuild his relationship with the Lord and have an awesome testimony to God's faithfulness OR his story might end in tragedy that rocks us to the end of our days...either way, the PROMISE that we have is that IF we keep our eyes on the Lord and not on our well-being, reputation, dreams or expectations-God WILL be GLORIFIED through it somehow.
(I say, 'somehow' because we may have to look hard to see it)
The final promise in that passage is that we won't be put to shame because, "Gods love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit"- in short, no matter what we walk through, we are loved and cared for through it- THANK YOU, LORD!!!
So here's that bullet point breakdown---
*Christ bought our justification, so faith in Jesus =Peace w/God- (vs.1)
*We walk in grace (not judgement) because we have faith in Jesus (vs.2)
*We base our hope in the fact that God will be glorified (vs.2)
*Our sufferings build endurance, character and more hope (vs.3-4)
*Hoping in God will NOT lead to shame (vs.5)
*Gods love is constantly being poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (vs.5)
Lean into that faith, grace, hope and love, my friends!!!