So then, if we are not out of alignment with God but participants in the work of aligning ourselves with one another and with all creation to the glory of God, let us boast in hope.
Many days—sometimes long stretches of seasons—hope seems out of reach. Daily stresses, overwhelming hardships, the 24-hour news cycle, an acute grief or conflict can tangibly impact our grasp of hope. And when hope seems far away, Paul’s assurance can seem trite. Boasting in suffering seems an outrage. Yet Paul’s conviction that suffering can produce hope is neither religious cliché nor paternalistic patter.
Backtrack to the second half of verse 2 where our boasting begins in hope. We can have no reason for hope if we do not recognize and experience the sufferings of the world. If our lives were perfect, hope would be pointless. We do not need hope unless we realize that the world is a mess, unless we see the foes and forces and misalignments that cause war and injury among us and within us.
Because we know the keen heartache that comes with opening our eyes to the world’s mess, we determine that we must join the work of righting the mess. We join the work that God initiated and Wisdom celebrated, the holy work that the Spirit continues. Because we participate in the work, we are changed.
Because we are changed, we find a renewed perspective of hope that the world too can change, that the ordering of relationships and nature and life can be realigned in beautiful peace.
And through it all, God’s love pours over us.
Loving God, call me to honest recognition of the world’s hurts and of my own. Call me to work. Call me to change. Call me to hope. Amen.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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