Part 18 – To suffer (series continued)
In Romans 5:4 there’s a third blessing the Spirit of glory resting on us does for us when we’re suffering. It’s to give us “hope,” elpis in Greek, meaning confident expectancy.
Peter gives us reason for such hope too: “Thank God,” he writes in 1 Peter 1:3-5, “that in his great mercy we’ve been born again into a life full of hope, because of Christ’s rising from the dead. We can now hope for a perfect inheritance beyond the reach of change and decay.” So, verse 13, “set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
That’s our reason for hope, isn’t it, that because of the risen Jesus “our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever,” 2 Corinthians 4:17.
Our present troubles, then, have a glorious eternal purpose. But how does that relate to our everyday lives now? We’re in the middle of a trial, for instance, that’s burning up our energy, leaving us exhausted and emotionally drained, and no matter what we say or do to try to ease the pain, nothing works. So if someone was to say, “Tell me the reason for the hope you have” (1 Peter 3:15), what could we say in reply?
But for all our troubles we’re not giving up on God, are we – so what caused that? It’s the hope caused by the glory our troubles have already produced. When, for instance, we were “pushed to our limit by problem after problem,” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “we never got so frustrated we gave up. Or when we hadn’t got a clue what was happening to us and why, we didn’t despair. Or when everyone was turning against us, we never felt abandoned. Or when hit hard we always bounced back again.” And for one simple reason, that “we experience something of the death of the Lord Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours,” verse 11.
It’s his life in us now, making us more thoughtful, compassionate, loving, wiser and calmer, that gives us hope – that the Spirit really is at work in our everyday lives producing the stuff of eternal life in us. And hopefully the person who asked us the reason for our hope has noticed it too…(more on this tomorrow)