“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
When I was a student at WMI in the 1983, I had just begun dating Shelley. Within a few short months, we were engaged to be married. Engagement brought an overwhelming sense of joy, peace, and expectation which built week after week until the day of our wedding 18 months later in June of 1985. There were two dimensions to that joyous hope. The first was initiated at our engagement. The second was experienced through the covenantal nature of marriage. At engagement and then in matrimony, we made promises to each other that were intended to last “forever.”
Both events- engagement and covenant- provide a parallel to Christian hope described in Romans 5.
Romans 5:5 speaks of God’s engagement with us through expressions of his love into our hearts. This relationship grows over time and provides the assurance and peace that allows the believer to overcome even the worst kind of shame and disappointment. While this first kind of hope is available to us in the “here and now,” there is a second kind of hope described in Romans 5:2. This second kind of hope has eternal implications. We are joined with God forever!
…And who is the guarantor of this hope, both now and for eternity?
We read in the passage that it is God the Holy Spirit. The passage describes the Holy Spirit as “pouring” God’s love into our hearts.
Shelley and I recently visited Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls has the highest water flow of any waterfall on earth. Every second, some 700,000 gallons of water cascades over the falls. Over the course of a year, the amount of water flowing over the falls could fill 36,000,000 Olympic sized swimming pools! The source for the falls comes from 4 of the Great Lakes- Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie- a virtually inexhaustible supply of water.
We can take heart that God’s supply to us of love, forgiveness, peace, joy, and hope truly is inexhaustible. It flows from the endless wellspring of his power and character…and most of us need every drop! We come to God covered in shame; we bear the scars of disappointment. Indeed, the Bible reminds us in Romans 3:23 that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And yet, God’s love- and every other good gift from above- is available in overflowing measure to cleanse, empower, and heal us.
There are lots of places to put our hope these days- self, others, things- but the words of song 662 in The Salvation Army songbook remind us that we are wise to fix our hope on Jesus, the one sure foundation:
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Embrace that hope today. Jesus’ blood has washed us clean. We are loved. We are forgiven. We have purpose. The Holy Spirit is the guarantor of these promises…and God always keeps his word.
Questions for Consideration
- What are the sources of shame that may be weighing me down today?
- In what or whom am I placing my hope?
- Will I receive the overflowing river of God’s love that he offers?
- For what do I need to place my hope and trust in Jesus Christ for the future?
I come before you with expectant hearts eager to praise you as the creator, governor, and preserver of all things. I lift to you my adoration!
I repent of my sins and ask that you forgive me for anything I have done, thought, or said that may have been out of step with your will for me. Today, I confess my sin!
I acknowledge the many blessings that you constantly shower on me- particularly those of family, faith, and friends…I offer now my thanksgiving!
I ask, Lord, that you will continue to meet my individual needs, especially for your love to overwhelm any lingering feelings of shame and guilt. Replace those feelings with those of hope, in the present and for all eternity. I reach out with my supplication!
Finally, I proclaim you as Savior and Lord of my life. Help me to be faithful. Help me to be obedient. Help me to be responsive. Help me to place my hope in you.
I pray these things in the matchless name of Jesus, Amen.
Edward Hill, Colonel
Canada and Bermuda Territory