The church at Rome experienced suffering, persecution, had been wrecked with false teaching and division. But here, in the opening of Chapter 5, Paul summarizes what he has established thus far in his writing “having been reconciled by God.” This theme in the background places emphasis on the concept that we have peace with God. Paul is clear in his intentions here that not everyone has peace with God or has been reconciled, only those who have responded in faith to Jesus Christ. And for those, who are in Christ, we have hope always.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. - Rom 5:1-11
Human suffering is real in a lot of different ways and takes a lot of different forms. Sometimes suffering is due to our own sin or the effects of the sins of others. All of us are familiar with the consequences of sin and many times the effects are far reaching. Sin complicates life. The truth is that our entire world is cursed because of sin. Yet, even when we are not responsible for what might be happening, we are responsible for how we respond. The Bible teaches that the entire creation is groaning for a time of redemption. In heaven all things shall be made new, sin and its effects shall be no more, and the Lord Jesus shall reign victorious! The groanings of creation shall cease forever.
The Old Testament Hebrew word for hope is qavah, conveying hope built on expectation of what is to come. The New Testament Greek word used for hope is elpis. Elpis is hope as confident expectation of what is yet to come. Elpis hope is based on confidence in God. Specifically, His unfailing deliverance. If we look at our suffering as God does and in the example He has given us in Jesus’ life, our suffering should result in bringing glory to God. In the scriptures, we learn that this is only possible if we shift our perspective from our feelings to focus on God, his will, his truth, and his promises.
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. - Col 2:9-10 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. - Ephes 4:24 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. - Rom 8:25-26
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, 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, - 1Pet 1:3-4
While in the midst of adversity, maintaining a hopeful character requires a resolute and uncompromising spirit. There’s a reason that the Apostle Paul says to be anxious for nothing because in life there are a lot of opportunities to be anxious (Phil 4:6-7). So, we understand that it’s common. Worldly hope is misplaced in temporary things that disappoint. There’s a distinct way the Bible says that we run toward peace and it doesn’t have an earthly means. It doesn’t have a temporal solution where we’re placing our hope in something earthly that is temporary. We all come to know that is the kind of thing is going to fade away and then we lose our hope. Hope becomes fickle. If we’re trusting in worldly solutions, in the beginning a person feels better and those symptoms are alleviated but it’s based upon a false hope. Biblical hope is needed for believers to remain encouraged and steadfast in their walk with the Lord. Biblical hope is a living and sure hope placed in God himself (Rom 8:25-26). Our focus should be on eternal hope, that we focus on heaven’s hope even in immediate human suffering.
When we survey Paul’s writings, it’s interesting to see the way in which Paul talks about the sufferings of people in this present age. Peter does the same. With the sufferings of people, in the day to day of the here and now, what these biblical writers consistently appeal to is what Jesus will do when he comes back for the sake of redeeming man. Paul does not teach that what provides peace in the here and now changes our circumstances. His hope is built upon the sure foundation that Christ is returning to make all things new. We see this in his writing regularly. With all he endured he lived with consistently trusting in the sufficient grace of the Lord to provide so he could still live with joy.
Like Paul, we can trust that even though this world is broken; all we encounter in our days and all the distress we experience will be renewed. The resurrection hope of Christ guarantees that we are more than conquerors of sin and death through Christ who loved us (Rom 8:37-39) and when troubles come and sorrows abound, the hope we’ve come to know sustains our soul to greater endurance (Job 13:15). Though we are in this world, we are to be reminded that we are not of it. Our hope points to the glory of our God and a greater hope in the return of Christ (Rom. 5:2).
The Word says this life is a vapor and all its difficulties will pass away. But with the hope that’s to come, we can be secure now. Our life is not determined by or at the mercies of our experiences. Our life is determined by our security in a Savior who is raised from the dead and who the Bible promises is coming once again. He will return for us and to redeem us in full, both body and soul. We will spend an eternity with him forever! When we consider our present realities in this light, not simply the superficial worldly messages that we need to replace on a consistent basis, but a complete renewal of the mind where our hope is fixed. Paul would encourage us to think on things above and things that are to come, the promises that are sure in Christ. In Christ Jesus, we have hope always.
The very glory of heaven is that we shall see him, that same Christ who once died upon Calvary’s cross, that we shall fall down, and worship at his feet, nay more, that he shall kiss us with the kisses of his mouth, and welcome us to dwell with him forever. – Charles Spurgeon
As our outer person is wasting away, we see the inner person being renewed by faith in what’s to come, that Jesus will be strong in all our weakness, and that brings us comfort. When he comes back, he will make all things new. This is eternal and beautiful hope.
As perfect health was our first happiness, so it will be our last and eternal happiness, for heaven is not merely streets of gold and harps of melodious music, and winged creatures strangely bright, but it is perfection realized, the slough of depravity cast off the soul shall be herself again, and of manhood it shall be said, ‘his flesh is fresher than a child’s, and he has returned to the days of his youth. – Charles Spurgeon
Christians are uniquely a people who share resurrection hope. With our eyes fixed on heaven, we have hope always.
Are you hopeless in this life? You can have hope always if you admit you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, you repent of those sins, and place trust in Jesus as the son of God who is willing and able to forgive completely. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ, you have a living hope. My prayer for you and for me is that our focus will always be on the resurrection hope of heaven. That our eyes will be on Christ.
I steer you to God’s Word to read further:
1 Peter 1:13
Pray Psalms 18:1