Western civilization has betrayed me. Disney love stories and Hollywood rom-coms have disillusioned me. American Christianity has disappointed me.
They all promised me a husband – they all told me to put my hope in a filmy dream, a starry-eyed wish, a traditional ring on bended knee montage.
And if that weren’t enough, the church has tried to patch up my disappointments with paltry comforts –
“You can ‘still’ honor God in your singleness.”
“You can ‘still’ get married if you keep trusting God.”
“There’s ‘still’ someone out there for you.”
–reminding me with every “still” that I’ve passed their deadline for marriage, and I’m now in the pitiable zone where we try to explain why singleness “still” clings to me like a disease that makes everyone uncomfortable.
So why does the Bible tell me that “hope does not disappoint?” This phrase came to mind the other night, and I felt like crying out – “Are you kidding me?! Getting my hopes up only to have them crushed does disappoint me.”
That little phrase in Romans 5:5 is immediately followed up with a “because.”
“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.”
Hope was the last item in that chapter in a list of virtues produced by suffering. Suffering ultimately produces hope because it strips away our hope in everything else that fails us, and builds within us a longing for that which never will.
This kind of hope is repeated again and again in the New Testament:
Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 1:10 – “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.”
2 Corinthians 3:12 – “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.”
Hebrews 6:19 – “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
The truth is that the world will disappoint me. The church will disappoint me. Those I love will disappoint me. I will disappoint myself. The only One who will never disappoint me is God. The Bible repeatedly emphasizes His faithfulness and a hope that is in something far greater than the material blessings we see here on earth.
The hope that the Bible speaks of is not a wistful fancy – the kind of thing that would be nice if it happened. That kind of hope leaves me depressed if I dwell on it for too long, for there is nothing I can do to make it happen.
The hope of the Bible, however, is sure – it’s “firm” and “secure” – because it is in the person of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. Our hope can be in Him because there is literally nothing in this world that can separate us from Him.
His love is secure – people’s love is changeable and fickle.
His heavenly home is forever – our situations on earth are temporary.
His promises and character are unchanging – the world is fallible and unpredictable.
When my hope is the kind that expects a certain scenario to happen to me in the near future, that hope will disappoint me.
But when my hope is the kind that dwells on a Savior who speaks love and faithfulness into all my wounded parts, it never disappoints. It only draws me closer to the reassurance that I am held safely by faithful hands.
His forever, only His. He alone can transform broken hopes into permanent trust in Him.