“Hope does not disappoint”

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint… ” (Romans 5:1-5 NASB)

Regardless of the outcome, I don’t believe that Christ-centered hope can ever be categorized as “false hope.” Even in our darkest trials; when we’re hoping (in Christ) for a miracle to bring us through the trial and the miracle doesn’t happen the way we envisioned, we can remain “in hope” if we are truly hoping (unconditionally) in Christ and not merely hoping for a miracle. Regardless of the trials we face, only hope in Christ is “the full assurance of hope until the end” (Hebrews 6:11 NASB)

The Apostle Paul (the man who wrote the opening passage) experienced many difficult trials, but was a living example that hope in Christ never disappoints. He wrote; (I have) “…been put in jail…whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27 NLT)

Like many of us, Paul’s trials didn’t always turn out the way he envisioned and prayed that they would. A great example of this is Paul’s so-called “thorn in the flesh.” The Bible never says what Paul’s “thorn” was, but I believe this omission was intentional so we could read Paul’s words and be able to apply them to whatever “thorns in the flesh” we might be dealing with, whether they are physical, emotional, relational, financial or spiritual etc.

Paul wrote;” Concerning this (thorn in the flesh) I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NASB)

God telling Paul, “My grace is sufficient,” isn’t His nice way of saying “No,” but it is His way of saying “Not yet.” The Bible doesn’t tell us whether or not God ever removed Paul’s “thorn” at some later point in Paul’s life and I think this omission was also intentional so we would keep hoping for God to grant our miracle.

I believe that God wants us to get to the point where our joy, peace and hope are not dependent on our circumstances. Learning to love God unconditionally, as He loves us, is the greatest of all miracles.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NASB)

His grace is sufficient!

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, at the age of 36, I was diagnosed with ALS. The neurologist gave me 3-5 years to live. 24 years later... :-) I'm completely paralyzed and unable to speak. By God's grace and the great care of my wife, I'm still here. I live to encourage and give hope to others going through difficult times.

Posted on August 1, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Your idea that Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ isn’t specified so that we can relate to his experience makes sense; I hadn’t thought of it before. I guess the point is not what trials we have in comparison to others, but what we allow to be created of/in us as a result.
    Thanks for your insight and thoughts.


  2. Bill, I did not know you were writing a blog! I must go back and read all of them. What beautiful words you have written, inspiring, hopeful, lessons I certainly can learn from. Much love, Hilda Bowen (aka PBMom for Pateick Bowen’s mom, not peanut butter mom! LOL


    • Hi Hilda. I didn’t know you had a blog either. I signed up to follow you.


      • Mine is incredibly superficial, a lot of TV stuff since I am part of a Fox VIP program of super fans of their shows. I throw in there the occasional deep thoughts, like I’m about to do one on my experience going to the 9/11 Memorial and seeing the name of my classmate on the granite that surrounds the towers. I was actually reading this last night while I was in a 2-hour session of Patrick refusing to go to bed and stay there. It’s been going on for months and months. It’s exhausting. Last night reading your blog was a bright spot in my evening and gave me perspective.


  3. **Regardless of the outcome, I don’t believe that Christ-centered hope can ever be categorized as “false hope.”**

    Unshakable, indeed. Thank you for the post.


  4. Thank you for liking my blog, otherwise I wouldn’t have been encouraged by your post! I am a mom of two kids under two and it has been a very rough week. Thank you for the reminder of what Paul endured. If he can make it through such persecution I can survive two small kids. May the Lord use me to show my kids Jesus.


  5. ‘His grace is sufficient!’



  6. So so encouraging to me! I told Lauren I’m going to print it out and take it with me to Amsterdam! The Lord is really teaching me what it means to hope with a desperate hope for only Him and regardless of what my circumstances are KNOW that my hope will not disappoint! So glad you started a blog! 🙂


  7. …and His grace is in your thoughts and words.


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