Chronic pain


Romans 5:2-5

“…and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
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.”

photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani via photopin cc

As promised in my previous post, I wanted to spend some time processing this idea of hope with you.

I have read the above passage several times in the past and I find myself always pausing on the last verse in this passage:

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.”

In the old NIV version it says that hope does not disappoint us.

And I don’t know about you, but in my life, I have been disappointed by hope a time or two.

I had hope that we would get pregnant and have our own biological children…
I had hope that my mom would be totally healed on this Earth from her cancer…
I had hope that I would be totally healed from my postherpetic neuralgia and be free from all medicine…

Hope started to become the very thing I longed for and could never grasp.

But when I was in the midst of my chronic pain, I briefly searched google for an interpretation on this passage and I found a very interesting and profound definition of hope.

Hope is a complex emotion that consists of:
the desire for an object + the expectation of obtaining that object.

If either is lacking, there is no hope.
If they are not in proper proportion to each other, there is no peace.
But if the two are in proportion to one another, therein lies hope.

This definition of hope caused me to look at it from a new perspective.  I have often looked at hope in regard to a certain circumstance or situation.  I would have hope that my situation would change but my hope was grounded only in the outcome of the situation.  So when I desperately wanted something to turn out a certain way and I did not get the desired outcome I was expecting, my hopes would be dashed.  I would be consistently disappointed by hope.

But if you look at this same definition for hope and apply it to the hope of the glory of God as stated in verse 2, then Paul is right…hope does not disappoint us.  We have a desire for the glory of God and we can expect that we will obtain and see the glory of God when we pass from this Earth or Christ returns. So when we place our hope in the glory of God, we will never be disappointed.

I think that is why Paul states that we can rejoice in our suffering because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope.  I think it often takes a form of “suffering” or trial to produce in us the character needed to place ALL of our hope into the glory of God.

When I was in so much pain for so long, I had to grapple with the idea that it could be this way for a long time – possibly the rest of my life.  That thought could either usher me into depression or usher me into desperate dependence on God.  As I became desperately dependent on God, I realized something quite amazing:

Even if my pain persisted, I would still have the hope of the glory of God.

As a child of God, NOTHING can take away the hope I have in Christ.

I am reminded of one of my favorite verses that I have clung to over the past 10 years.

Lamentations 3:21-24

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself,
‘The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.'”

If we put our hope in our circumstances, we will often be disappointed.

But if Christ lives in us, we can put our hope in the One who never disappoints us… even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

2 thoughts on “Hope

  1. And your writing and encouragement, Sue, doesn’t fail to disappoint either! I’m continually blessed by the wisdom you share… every entry of your I read touches my heart, reminds me of the eternal hope and wonder of our God, and makes me ever more grateful to call such a beautiful and godly woman as you my friend. Love you!

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