The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16
Not long ago I visited the Empire State Building with a friend. The line looked short—just down the block and around the corner. Yet as we entered the building, we discovered the line of people stretching through the lobby, up the stairs, and into another room. Every new turn revealed more distance to go.
Attractions and theme parks carefully route their crowds to make the lines seem shorter. Yet disappointment can lurk “just around the bend.”
Sometimes life’s disappointments are much more severe. The job we hoped for doesn’t materialize; friends we counted on let us down; the romantic relationship we longed for fails to work out. But into these heartbreaks, God’s Word speaks a refreshing truth about our hope in Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame [or disappoint us], because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5).
As we place our trust in Him, through His Spirit, God whispers the truth that we are unconditionally loved and will one day be with Him—regardless of the obstacles we face. In a world that may often disappoint us, how good it is to know that God gives genuine hope.
Does Paul add insult to injury when he links hope to character? Is he saying it takes being a good person to have hope (Romans 5:3–4)? No. Paul isn’t writing to exalt the virtues of moral or legal compliance. He’s telling a story about what the Spirit of Christ does for us in our sin and in our suffering (Romans 5:6–8; 8:22–27). According to Paul, hope is given to us by the Holy Spirit who personally opens our hearts to the love of God—with the assurance Christ died for us in our moral helplessness.