Belgian Christadelphians

When there Seems no future in suffering

By Beverley Russell

5. Hope in a future, when there seems no future in suffering

As every disappointment falls like a veil over my hope, I need to find a fresh reason for looking forward again and again, in faith and hope. It is like lifting that heavy veil again to look up where He is. It is imperative to keep on doing that to see Him without despair. Hope, faith and purpose are the key essentials for looking forward, for without hope there is a risk of giving up the journey. People with hope and faith and purpose have a choice even when there is no evidence.

Hope is necessary in every human condition. The hope and joys need to continue in our lives, so that we can continue to be hopeful and joyful. The hopeless miseries of poverty, sickness, captivity and evil speaking would be, without the comfort of hope, insupportable. So hope and joy, in a daily dose, whatever is the condition, is necessary. Psalm 62:5, “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him”. We are told they can be found in the most extreme situation.

Hope is a determined faith that something good is ahead. It is more than optimism, for hope implies courage to keep it real. Romans 8:24-25. “Hope that is seen is not hope, for what a man seeth, why doeth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Hope involves a leap of faith with courage, not just a looking on the bright side, but a living there in that bright side, and a loving on the bright side, when it is still dark and unknown. We find we do not know what to pray for in our extremities, and sometimes we cannot even pray at all. But we are assured that at that time of confusion “the Spirit makes intercession for us” (verse 27). “Continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel”, Col 1:23, 27, and that “Christ in you is the hope of glory”.

Chronic illness, or terrible incarceration, or the birth of a disabled child, or trying to live under people who tell lies about those they should love, all create people who are long suffering. Long sufferers are mentioned with great integrity on the Bible, those who are blessed with good fruit. It is one of the collective fruit of the spirit of Galatians 5, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance”

Hope is not a guarantee for present relief, but if the required hope fails to be realized now, it is not that God has let down the sufferer. God will actually use the continuing infirmity, the continual torture, the unrelenting tragedy, the ongoing situation of falsehood to produce goodness. When and if suffering passes and the darkness lifts, and we are out of the pit, then we see the weapon with which we can defend others in need. We can honour the suffering of others without judgment, that they are in the pit where we were, and now, through the trial they now endure, we can also service their needs and be with them in the suffering pit.

Death, where is thy sting? Grave, where is thy victory, Suffering, where is thy joy? Torment, where is thy glory? Where is the hope of glory again? When will it be all joy? Where is the victory from the sting of death? Why does it all have to be so prolonged and never the promised relief?

If you believe in the God’s love, you believe Someone is there. Someone is watching as life ticks away. Someone loves you, and if you have hope then there is the overwhelming feeling that it is fully worth the risking of a life to go forward, for that Someone goes with you.

When the answer from the Father is “no”, and when the importuning fails (maybe for the life of a child, or for a burden that is never lifted), what then? It is as if the door is slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double locking on the inside, as CS Lewis put it.

There has been the overall dependence upon God, and all that the suffering taught us, wasn’t that enough? Why is the answer “No”? Then the future can only turn into hope.


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