Hope and Hopelessness

Brothers and sisters:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revelation of the children of God;
for creation was made subject to futility,
not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,
in hope that creation itself
would be set free from slavery to corruption
and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved.
Now hope that sees for itself is not hope.
For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.
(Romans 8:18-25)

Scripture Study

8:18 sufferings of this present time Earthly suffering is not an eternal reality. In v. 17, Paul’s reference to suffering together with Christ likely alludes to persecution for confessing faith in Christ. Here, the present sufferings may refer to more than persecution and encompass the full range of human experience: sickness, injury, natural disaster, financial loss, poverty, hunger, and death. glory The Greek word used here, doxa, points to the transformation of the body through resurrection (see 1 Cor 15:42–44; Col 3:4).

8:19 revelation of the children of God Refers to the final unveiling of God’s family of glorified humanity—those glorified through faith in Christ. There may also be a hint of the unveiling at the apocalypse, as Jesus returns with His “holy ones” (compare Zech 14:5; Rev 19:11–16), a term applied in the OT to both divine beings loyal to Yahweh and believers (Dan 7:21–22, 25, 27; 8:24).

8:20 made subject to futility Sin affected more than humanity’s relationship to God; creation itself was spoiled and suffered decay (v. 21). the one who subjected it Usually identified as God, acting in response to the sin of Adam and Eve (compare Gen 3:17–19).

8:21 glorious freedom Creation will benefit from the freedom afforded to the children of God through Christ.

8:22 groaning in labor pains The created order is in turmoil. Like God’s people, it is longing for Christ’s return, when He will liberate the world from death and decay (see Rev 21:1 and note). This restoration is a prominent theme of the OT prophets (compare Isa 35:1–10).

8:23 first fruits An OT expression referring to the first part of the harvest, which God designated for Himself and His priests (Lev 23:10; Deut 18:4). Here, its usage refers to God’s initial transformative work in His people, which will result in resurrection glory. groan Expresses frustration with the present evil age and the anticipation of complete redemption. our adoption The Greek phrase used here indicates that the Holy Spirit makes believers children of God (compare Gal 4:6). redemption of our body God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, working through His Spirit.

8:24 in hope In the NT, hope is not wishful thinking; it is a confident expectation in the fulfillment of God’s promises. Paul described Abraham as an example of hope in God. Abraham trusted in the hope of God’s ability to fulfill what He had promised.

8:25 endurance Present troubles are manageable when living in hope of future redemption.

Scripture Reflection

For in hope we were saved” Romans 8:24.

There’s a lot of hopelessness in our society today. Polls show that huge numbers of people have concluded that the future of Western society is dark and that the future of this country is not bright for their children.

But it is the birth and introduction of new life into this world that should continue to give us hope in the future. It is why the Church is so vocal about the right to life. We know that without new life, the darkness of this world becomes oppressive and hope disappears. But with faith in the hope of what new life represents for our world and our faith, people are capable not only of surviving great evils, but they are capable of living meaningful and hopeful lives in the midst of the darkness that surrounds them.

Given the problems in our country today, including serious problems in the Church, it’s a lesson that the downcast in our own time need to learn. We won’t be able to change things without hope in the future, for hope is what enables one to live a joyful life right now in the midst of adversities. The most positive sign of that hope is the birth of children. I learned from them that our hope and our joy in life can also be a great help to others who see the political and societal problems much the same way that we do, but whose lack of faith leaves them in a paralyzing hopelessness. In Christ is our true eternal hope.

– Fr. Mark Pilon

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.