And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:2b-5, NIV
Hope doesn’t disappoint? I could hardly believe my eyes as I read these words in Romans 5 when my husband Dave went on disability years ago. The hope I knew did disappoint. Dave’s mysterious symptoms had increased each year of our marriage until we finally had an answer: late stage Lyme disease.
When Dave left work, confusion and a myriad of neurological problems were setting in. Every few months Dave would have part of a day where he could talk without passing out, and he would ask me what was happening to him. Did he still have a job? Why was he sick? How long had it been this way? And slowly as I revealed the details I would see him sink back into Lyme-land again.
I tried offering just the sketchiest details—was it the stress of reality that chased him away? But no, it didn’t matter. The reprieve was only a brief window into his soul. Was that supposed to be hope for me, hope that the Dave I knew still existed and one day would come back? Or was it a cruel tease, reminding me of what used to be but might never be again? Every time Dave had a good day, I hoped it was a new beginning, only to have that desire crushed.
What was this elusive hope that did not disappoint? A hope so strong so as to be:
...an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf… ~Hebrews 6:19-20aSlowly over the next few years God began to reveal this hope. It wasn’t about my current life circumstances, a slippery slope at best to place my trust in. It wasn’t about whether or not Dave recovered—although I believe God cares infinitely more than even I do about Dave’s well being.
It was about my heart being tethered to the inner sanctuary, the promise of being eternally with God, sealed by God’s love poured out into our hearts now.
Can God really be known that personally? I wondered. Yet that’s the whole point of the inner sanctuary—it was always to be the place God met with man. And now that place is in our hearts. At times it’s more than I can grasp. When I think on the infinite holiness of God alongside His accessibility to man through Christ, it’s more than my finite mind can comprehend.
I may never know why God has allowed Dave to suffer with Lyme, but there is a question that lures me into His presence day after day. Who is this God who on the one hand seems to hide himself, yet on the other desires to be known by us so much that he gave the precious blood of Jesus to accomplish that goal? How can I know the One who is himself the hope that does not disappoint?
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. ~Psalm 27:4This was King David’s longing, the hope now fulfilled, and yet will be fulfilled even greater in eternity. This is the journey we're on, to pursue this hope and all that God has to offer us. Come, let’s gaze upon his beauty and seek him in his temple.
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