Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 18

1 Chronicles 26:12-27:34; Romans 4:13-5:5; Psalm 14:1-7; Proverbs 19:17

Psalm 14:3 reiterates what we just read in Romans 3 a few days ago - “They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Doesn’t this Scripture ring so true in our seemingly godless world today? Just yesterday, I was lying on my bed caught in a moment of overwhelming sadness in light of the hard and painful things going on in our world. All around our cities, countries, and planet there are racial tensions rising, terrorism expanding, sickness, premature death, ungodliness, and violence breaking out. Is there really any hope for this world, for our own lives? Where is our hope when things seem so bleak?

Romans 4:18- 25 is such an encouragement and apt word in light of all this. I love the phrase about Abraham that says, “in hope he believed against all hope” (Rom. 4:18). I just love that logically hope should have been impossible for Abraham to have, yet he did in fact have it. And he had it in abundance. “He did not weaken in faith…no distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (vs. 20-21, emphasis mine). When Abraham looked at the hard facts of his body, Sarah’s body, and life around him, he should have had no reason to hope. Medically, physically, scientifically, logically, he should not have hoped for a son. Yet he did not weaken in his hope, in his faith. He was “fully convinced” (I just love that phrase too!) that God was going to make good on those humanly impossible promises.  Oh, how I wish I had faith and hope like Abraham. So often when I look at the nature of life around me and at my circumstances, so much seems impossible. I waver; I doubt.

So how does Abraham come by this kind of faith and hope? We have already read his story in Genesis, and we also see in Romans that faith is a gift from God through belief. But we can also grow into this kind of faith and hope when we read a little further into Romans 5:1-5. We see that one of the great producers of hope is….suffering. What? Did we read that right? Wouldn’t suffering cause us to lose hope? No. Rather, “we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that sufferings produce endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom. 5:3-4).

Now comes our challenge. Will we be people who hope against all hope? Are we fully convinced that God will do what he says he will do? Will we rejoice in our sufferings, allowing them to produce hope in us?

Lord Jesus, help us not to look at the circumstances of our lives or the events of the world around us, and lose our hope and faith in you. May we be like Abraham, fully convinced, expecting, waiting, and anticipating the fulfillment of your good promises.

- Mary Matthias

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