Looking at the text here’s a twist of insight. The progression from tribulation (suffering) to perseverance to character to hope also works in reverse. Hope produces character that perseveres in future difficulties. There is a two-way ebb ad flow between the hope the Lord develops in you through trials and the matured hope you express in confronting the problems around you in people and society. There is no spectator status for people in whom the Lord is molding a hopeful character. You never retire to an honorary position with no responsibilities. Hope presses you on to ask and answer some crucial questions that define the Lord’s next steps for your growth:
-Have you opened yourself up to the Lord so that you have allowed Him to fill you with the hope He desires to give you?
-In what ways do you need to grow in Christlikeness?
-Where is the Potter seeking to place His hand on the clay of your character?
-Who in your life needs hope? To whom are you called to communicate unqualified love and unreserved forgiveness?
-are any of your relationships taut, frayed, or broken? What is your hope for reconciliation?
-What are the Lord’s next steps for the deepening of your marriage or friendships? If you threw caution to the wind, what would the Lord have you do about it?
-If the Lord had His way with your church, what needs reformation and renewal? What is the boldest hope the Lord has given you for the church in America? For the church abroad? For your own local church?
-Which one of the major problems in your community are you called to confront and become involved in solving with the Lord’s guidance and courage?
You can never stop asking these questions. Some of them, especially the ones about your church and community, may lead to conflict and trying times. Just as your hope has been nurtured in trials in the past, it will grow even more in the new challenges the Lord proposes. Hopeful people are not without struggles, but they are restless. Of course, our rest in the Lord to renew your strength and visions, but that’s rest in preparation for the next advance in battle. Praise the Lord for perseverance that produces maturity in character!