“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 rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:1 – 5 (NIV)
This week is the second week of Advent and the theme is Hope. Dictionary.com defines hope as: “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” I personally like how Annie from the musical of the same name describes hope: “The sun will come out tomorrow…bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow…come what may…” (I bet you sang that line!) But back to hope…
Hope is something we truly can’t live without. Or at least we don’t live well without hope. You see when we get to the point in life where it feels that nothing we do will change, when we can work hard to advance in our career, or work hard to change our circumstances and nothing seems to work…if we then give up….we have lost our hope. We have reached a point where we have “learned helplessness.”
What is learned helplessness you ask? It is where we are met with negative responses to everything we try to do to improve and it results in our just giving up and we stop trying to improve the situations we are in. We have lost our hope in changing anything about our life. This is not a good place to live. And this is not where God wants us to live. Because there is always hope when we lean into the love our creator God has poured into each and every one of us. We can have hope even in the worst of circumstances.
And speaking of worst circumstances: I found it fascinating what POW’s said kept them going when they were captured. These POW’s, survived horrible conditions during their war time internments and they said what kept them going was their determination to survive and the hope they would be released or rescued. They also didn’t put a time line on attaining their freedom. Those who did, would see those dates pass by and eventually they would give up their hope of ever going home. They would fall into learned helplessness. But for those who didn’t give up, who didn’t put a time line on their release…would one day make it home.
Romans teaches us that through our suffering we gain perseverance and through our persevering we develop our character and through developing our character we achieve hope…and like Annie we will trust that no matter what our circumstances are today, the sun will shine tomorrow. In all our tomorrows, we have the opportunity to try again, start over, or just keep pushing through the situations we find ourselves.
Life is not perfect…we will have suffering. I know that is not much of a news flash! But here is the thing to remember: How we choose to deal with the suffering in life will determine if we just lay around whining in our learned helplessness…or if we get up, dust ourselves off, and fight another day.
I think I will choose to fight because I know God is on my side. How can I lose?