Character and Hope

By Bonnie Scasta, Women’s Ministry Director

Are you going through a hard season right now?  Does life just seem to have one hardship after another?  Do the pieces keep falling apart?

We often find ourselves in this situation and, even worse, the struggles continue even after we have prayed and prayed for deliverance.  The bottom seems to fall out of plan after plan.  We try to continue on, doing our best to look for and believe there will be good in the future, yet it can be hard to keep pushing forward.

It’s in these hard times that we seek true hope—a hope that will enable us to continue on through the struggles of life, through trials that come again and again, and through the pain that never seems to end. But if hope is what we are after, where do we seek it? Where can it be found?

The world seems to communicate that hope is found in things going right.  That hope is the good feeling that comes when the pieces seem to be put back together.  That hope is achieved when it isn’t so hard anymore. When the struggle ends.  When you can finally pay your bills.  When that loved one is finally restored to you. When you finally stop acting out of your sinful ways.  When you get that relationship.  When you find those friends.  When things go well and begin to work out.  When you have wealth, fame, positive experiences, and things go your way.

But as those who trust in Christ, we see something different in God’s word about where hope comes from. Romans 5 shows that hope doesn’t come from everything working out ok, it actually comes from enduring suffering and developing character.

Romans 5:3-5:
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.

How countercultural and counter-intuitive is that?  God says that it is actually going through hard times and coming out on the other side with character that will produce hope in your life. In other words, the trials and suffering in your journey are actually God trying to grow character and hope in you, NOT Him trying to destroy your hope.

Take heart if you are in a dark season that seems hopeless. God isn’t trying to remove your hope, but instead, he is trying to grow deeper character in your heart so you will have hope all the more,  a hope that cannot be put to shame and that is rooted in His love poured into us.

Where are you struggling with Hope today?  How is your endurance and character building going?  Will you respond to trials with obedience and faith believing that the character he is working out in you will bring about the hope you so desperately need?

Pray:  Jesus, will you help me look to you when suffering comes, and I am in need of hope.  Please remind me that these trials are not to remove my hope, but to actually grow a deeper, greater hope not tied to my circumstances.  Help me endure and build character that will result in hope that will not disappoint.  Amen.