Thursday, October 4, 2012

Living Hope

"...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:(2), 3-5

Hope does not put us to shame.

"...That you may not grieve as those who have no hope."  1 Thessalonians 4:13

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be fervent in prayer."  Romans 12:12

And this is my favorite:

"He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in Heaven for you.  In this [hope] you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials SO THAT the tested genuineness of your faith (more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire) may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him.  Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:3-9

Oh my goodness, I love these passages!  Almost every time I see the word "hope" in Scripture it is associated with suffering, trials or grief.  Or should I say, almost every time I read about suffering in Scripture, hope is there, right on the heels of trial.  Hope is the desired character trait, and it seems like it is best obtained through suffering.  We hope for salvation.  We hope for healing from this sin-sick and hurting human body.  We hope for God to win the final battle on the last day.  We hope to be reunited with those we love.  We hope for Satan to be crushed and for death to be defeated.  Hope gives us an eternal perspective.

Through losing Cora Lane, God has been redirecting my hope.  Until she died, I had never really been all that jazzed about Heaven.  All those old gospel songs about Saint Peter and the pearly gates never made sense to me.  I didn't get it.  But now, Heaven is so much more real to me.  It's not just a place with fat, baby cherubs and gold everywhere (honestly, I don't think the fat, baby cherubs exist at all--I could be wrong! ;), but you get the point.   Heaven is the place where all is made right and new, where God's perfect will for his beloved children is fulfilled.  It is where our "inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading" is kept for us, according to Romans.  And it is in that hope that we rejoice.

It's interesting that Peter goes on to say, "though for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials."  Apparently, God deemed it necessary for us.  But this necessity means our trial and grief is not pointless.  It's necessary, Peter goes on, "SO THAT the tested genuineness of your faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  He is the point.  It all comes back to him, always.  Faith is knowing that our hope in Jesus will not disappoint, our hope in Him will be fulfilled.  That is why hope does not put us to shame.  When we hope in the right thing, in Christ, we can rejoice in our suffering because Christ will return and be revealed.  He will make all things new, and Cora and I together will sing his praises on that day.  (And to quote Psalty, the singing songbook -in honor of Leli- "Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace.  I wanna see my Savior's face, cause Heaven is a wonderful place.  I wanna go there!")

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