We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and this hope does not disappoint us, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:3-5)
I would like to help us prepare our hearts to celebrate Thanksgiving with a two-part message rooted in a hope that will not disappoint us . . . not ever!
Because we live in a fallen, broken world as fallen and broken people, there is nothing we have ever been involved in that did not, at some time or another, deal us some kind of disappointment. Whether it was a job we hoped to get, a relationship we deeply desired, or that one thing longed for and maybe even saved to purchase, that hope eventually failed to deliver on the happiness it seemed to promise us. But when we think through this sad reality, we realize that disappointment was the only thing it could deliver. Because all of creation has been marred by sin, everything in it is wildly imperfect and always underperforms.
Take just a cursory glance at the evening news, and virtually any hope we are hanging onto seems to be dashed against the rocks by the unending waves of challenge that keep washing over our world. Virtually every story seems to reinforce the ideas that crime really does pay, honesty is not the best policy, and, as a 1970s song lamented, “The rats keep winning the rat race.” And when all that dust settles, if we are still a bit hopeful, we find enough disappointment within ourselves to last two lifetimes. Speaking personally for a moment, I can testify that far too often, even when I am right about something, I deliver the message the wrong way, feelings are hurt, and the hope people placed in me is doused by disillusionment.
So what is the way forward when life seems to be continually marked by one step forward and two steps back? We must reevaluate where we have placed our hope. When we place our hope in anything of this world, we will inevitably be disappointed. And yet, even in the hope that disappoints us, we still have reason to be thankful, because God is at work through the grace of disappointment. You see, if the things of this life actually could provide a hope that did not disappoint, we would grow into only a fraction of the person God is calling us to be, and we would become cold and distant in our relationship with Him.
The key that unlocks the door leading to a hope that does not disappoint is to place our hope not in something, but in Someone . . . and His name is Jesus Christ. At this exalted level of living, we possess a hope that simply cannot disappoint, because it is rooted in the One who cannot and will not disappoint us in any way.
We’ll take a deeper look at that truth on Wednesday.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!