I say to you today, don’t be discouraged.  We seem to have found ourselves caught up in a terrible storm, haven’t we?  The thunder may not be as loud as it is for others and the wind and rain may not be as hard as it is for others but, we are in a terrible storm right now.  Though we find ourselves in a terrible storm, I will tell you that everything is going to be alright!  

Discouraging Times

I did a study last year about persevering through the storm.  Last year, I also preached a sermon – What Is Your Hope Built On? – that focused on how we withstand the storms of life.  I feel like it is always good to focus on what we are going through in life because you simply never know what someone might be going through.  In recent months, I believe all of us have just about been facing the same storm – a pandemic that’s seemingly spurred up several other storms.  

With the pandemic seeming like it is never ending, I see, hear, and read from others who are becoming more and more discouraged about things.  People are losing sleep and becoming insomniacs because of all that is going on.  Personally, I genuinely felt bummed the other day when I was hearing about things going in reverse.  So, the times we are living in seem to be very discouraging and being discouraged is simply not good for us physically, mentally, or spiritually.

Hopeful during the storm

During these discouraging times, I would tell you that we still have reason to hope and so I encourage you to not to be discouraged but continue to hope.  This is a message that I certainly hope you will pass on and share with others.  

As genuine followers of Christ, we are called to lift others up and to keep one another encouraged.  Paul declared to those in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 5:9-11), “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.  Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Some people are frightened by claps of thunder, but those who are not frightened, should comfort – encourage – others during the passing storm.  How do we encourage them?  What is it that we should tell them?  I want to take a brief look at my key verse here in Romans 5:5. 

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

romans 5:5 nkjv

Hopeful because of God

In this chapter of Romans, we find that Paul is talking about the benefits of choosing to walk with God faithfully.  The benefits of walking with God faithfully includes:  Peace (Rom. 5:1) – “therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Access and hope (Rom. 5:2) – “through [Christ] whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  Victory in tribulation (Rom. 5:3) – “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.”

Now, if you were to continue on down through Romans 5:11, you will see Paul continued to list the benefits of choosing to trust in God.  We are told (Rom. 5:9) that we will be saved from God’s wrath against sin.  Then, we are told that ultimately we will have joy in our rejoicing in God through our reconciliation to Him.  I want you to look at each one of those benefits and store these benefits in your heart today.

Now, there is one benefit that I skipped over because it’s the one that I really wanted to dive into in today’s message.  In my key verse for today, Paul tells us that to our benefit is the love of God.  (We could sum up all of these benefits under the banner of the love of God.)  Because of the love of God, you and I should always remain hopeful no matter the situation.

Hope does not disappoint

Paul writes, “Now hope does not disappoint.”  I think we need to talk about Paul’s thought on hope for a moment.  (Hope plays an important part in today’s sermon.)  Let’s remember that in the book of Hebrews, the writer wrote (Heb. 11:1), “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Let’s note that the hope being spoken of in both scriptures is our hope in the divine one – God.  I point this out because there is a difference in hoping in God and placing our hopes in something else.  To further explain what I mean, I have to use a conversation that I and my brother were having the other day.  I cannot remember why we were talking about having friends, but we were talking about the time that is required of a “good friend”.

Hope in others

My brother said to me, “To many people, I would probably not be seen as a good friend because so much time is required.”  (When we were younger, it was much easier to be best friends with others.  However, as we grow older and start having more serious jobs, families, bills, it does become harder to have friendships where we see each other or talk to each other everyday.)

The next thing my brother said about friendship:  “I would eventually disappoint and let someone down because I don’t always have time to talk or be there.”  Hope is a word that honestly gets filled with doubt nowadays.  When we say that we are hoping for something to happen, there is often a bit of doubt in that hope.  Think about what you’re hoping for right now, and ask yourself how confident you are in that hope.

As we live, we grow used to our hope in others or in things disappointing us.  For example:  eventually, our best friends do let us down because sometimes they can’t be there when we need them.  In another example:  something eventually does not go our way – be it like getting a raise on the job or landing the job/career that you wanted.  We learn how to live with the potential of our hopes deceiving us or disappointing us.

Hope in God

Yet, when we hope in God, we are hoping in the love of God.  Now, we talked about the love of God in my sermon last Sunday – I Got Your Back, Do You Have Mine – when we took a look at His grace.  Last week, I said that God’s love runs deep for us in that He gave of Himself for our betterment when He gave us His only begotten Son.

The love of God runs deep for us still to this day because He still gives of Himself for our betterment.  God, I said last Sunday, is our provider of all things and our protector from all harm.  The Lord is very passionate towards us in His love in that God always has time for us, and is always there when we need Him!  So, hope in God does not disappoint because His love has been poured out in our hearts.  Through the pouring out of God’s love, we have the benefits that Paul spoke of.

Example Through Israel’s Affliction

Yet, the problem that many of us have, especially during the storm, is that we become discouraged in our hope of God’s love for us.  God asks for us to have faith in His providence and protection.  Yet, we have become so used to our being let down by others that we assign our same thoughts and feelings of hope in others to God.  So, when I tell you don’t be discouraged during this storm, God is going to bring us through it, some of you may roll your eyes at the thought.

There are a lot of terrible storms that we read about in scripture, but I don’t believe there’s a storm worse than the bondage Israel faced in Egypt.  The children of Israel traveled to Egypt due to a terrible famine that occurred during the days of Joseph (Gen. 46).  Scripture tells us (Ex. 1:7) that the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mightily in the land of Egypt.  In other words, the children of Israel were blessed.

Pharaoh’s oppression

A new pharaoh rose to power that did not know Joseph, and he viewed the Israelites quite differently.  The new pharaoh saw the Israelites as a great threat to his kingdom (Ex. 1:10).  So, pharaoh chose to set taskmasters over the children of Israel.  Scripture tells us that this was done with the intent of causing afflictions and burdening the children of Israel – to make them weak.

Truly, in these actions, we see just how evil one man can be to another.  That storm was truly a terrible storm but I want you to pay very close attention to what is said in the next verse.  The next verse says (Ex. 1:12), “But the more they afflicted them, the more they (Israel) multiplied and grew.  And they (Pharaoh and the Egyptians) were in dread of the children of Israel.

You see, the children of Israel were in the midst of a storm, yet instead of growing weak, the children of Israel were growing stronger!  Why were they still growing stronger though they were afflicted and burdened?  They were still growing stronger because they had the love of God with them – they weren’t discouraged!  God was still watching over them and still blessing them during the storm.

Built To Make it Through

When He called Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, God said (Ex. 3:9), “the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me.”  So, though they were being afflicted and burdened, the children of Israel were still hopeful in the love of God.  The children of Israel still had faith that God would deliver them from their affliction.  Now, we know that the children of Israel did not remain in bondage forever.  The Lord brought them through and out of that storm.

We are in a storm today.  It would be easy for some of us to be discouraged and begin to believe that this storm is never going to end.  I choose to believe differently.  The reason why I believe differently is because of who resides in me.  You see, the love of God is what resides inside of me through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit continues to encourage me and lets me know that we are built to withstand any storm.

Trouble does not last.  The enemy wants you to be discouraged, to give up your hope.  You see, when we give up our hope, we can easily be defeated.  Don’t be discouraged during this storm – keep on hoping in the love of God.  You may not realize it just yet, but God is still with you and He is still blessing you this very minute.  You can be afflicted and burdened in this very moment but I tell you that God is still blessing you.

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