Introduction: My daughter and I were recently discussing depression
and suicide. I told her that if I ever got to the point of thinking
I should kill myself because of my problems, I would simply move to
Florida and hire on as some sort of helper on a boat. I remember the
days when I had a simple job – I would just go back to something like
that in a place with sun and nice weather. That answer did not
impress my daughter as a potential global solution for depression and
suicide. Her response was that depression causes some sort of mist
of darkness to settle over you so that you cannot see out of it. You
cannot imagine the sunny boat in Florida. It seemed to me the
difference between the two views was hope. (Not that my understanding
of depression was realistic!) I had hope in my solution and she
described a situation without hope. Our lesson this week is about
hope, so let’s hopefully dive right in!

  1. Two Types of Hope

    1. Read Romans 5:1-2. These two verses trace a path to
      rejoicing, what is it? (If we understand and believe in
      righteousness by faith in Jesus, that (first) gives us
      peace. It doesn’t stop there. That peace leads (second)to
      “hope in the glory of God.” I think the glory of God is
      our expectation of heaven, life made new, and eternal
      companionship with God. That spiritual hope gives us joy.)

    2. Read Romans 5:3. Apparently, spiritual hope is the not
      the end of the picture of our life. What enters into our
      life that creates problems? (Suffering.)

    3. Read Romans 5:3-5. What can be the outcome of suffering?
      (Paul tells us that suffering can produce perseverance,
      that can lead to an improved character, that improved
      character can produce hope.)

      1. What kind of hope is this? Is it the same as the
        spiritual hope (“hope in the glory of God”) that we
        learned about in Romans 5:1-2? (I think we are
        discussing two somewhat different concepts. The
        first two verses of Romans 5 teach us that we can
        have joy waiting for our eternal reward. But, in the
        meantime, we live in the third verse of Romans 5 –
        which is the daily “suffering” in life. That
        suffering can also lead to hope, but it seems that
        this is not so much a hope for heaven, but a hope
        that exists “because God has poured out His love into
        our hearts.”)

    4. Read Romans 5:6-8. Has Paul moved on to another topic, or
      is this discussion linked to Romans 5:3-5? (It is a
      further explanation. Our hope in our suffering is God’s
      love. God’s love for us is shown by His willingness to
      die for us.)

    5. Notice what is going on here. When it comes to the “hope”
      of Romans 5:1-2, we see the logical solution of heaven –
      living beyond the problems of this world. But, the hope
      of Romans 5:3-5, the hope for people suffering right now,
      is that God suffered for them – proving His love. This is
      not a “logical” cure for suffering. It simply says (in
      case you doubt because of your suffering) God loves you!
      He has not left you, He has not deserted you, He died for

  2. Job’s Hope

    1. Read Job 1:1, 8-12. How did this blameless and upright
      man get into trouble? (By being blameless and upright! It
      was because of a contest between God and Satan that
      trouble started for Job.)

    2. The book of Job consists of the human quest for an
      explanation for suffering. Job’s friends accuse him of
      wrongdoing – which caused his suffering. Job denies that
      he did anything to deserve this and asks to confront God
      so that he can be heard on the injustice of his situation.
      Read Job 38:1-3. God finally shows, but instead of
      debating Job, He tells Job He wants Job to answer a few
      questions. Does that seem fair and loving to you?

    3. Read Job 38:4-7. The rest of that chapter and Job
      chapters 39-41 are all along the same line of logic. What
      argument is God making to Job? (I’m God and you are not!
      Who are you to question Me!)

    4. Read Job 40:1-2. If you were Job and you were suffering,
      would this be an encouraging answer from God?

    5. Read Job 40:3-5 and Job 42:1-6. Apparently that was enough
      of an answer for Job! How does this answer fit what Paul
      tells us in Romans 5:3-6 that the hope in our suffering is
      God’s love poured out on us? (The two texts fit because in
      neither case does God explain the reason for the
      suffering. In Romans 5 God says “I love you, and I
      suffered death for you.” In Job 38-41 God says “I’m God
      and you are not. Consider whose judgment you are

    6. It would have been so simple for God to explain exactly
      what was going on in Job’s case. He never did explain it
      to Job. Why didn’t He? (Job is a perfect lesson for us.
      We have the curtain pulled back and we see the reasons for
      Job’s terrible suffering. These are reasons Job would
      never have guessed. However, God never discloses those
      reasons to Job – He just tells him “Trust Me, I’m God.”
      Since we have the entire picture of Job’s situation, we
      can see that God is right. However, like Job, we generally
      do not have the entire picture concerning our personal
      suffering. What gives us hope is knowing that God was
      acting reasonably with Job, and He was acting with
      incredible love for us when He died for us.)

    7. Do you need to have the specific answer for your suffering
      to have hope? Do you need to know the specific reason for
      your suffering?(Just knowing that a loving, caring,
      logical God is in charge should be enough.)

  3. Realistic Hope

    1. Read Jeremiah 29:1-3. What kind of tragedy and suffering
      lies behind these words? (God’s people had been defeated
      by the Babylonians. Their temple had been destroyed,
      Jerusalem had been destroyed and most of the people were
      taken captive to Babylon.)

      1. Imagine that your country was defeated in battle,
        your home destroyed and you and your family taken
        captive and dragged to the land of your enemy.

        1. How would you feel? (My life would be completely
          turned upside down! Nothing that I enjoyed in
          the past would be part of my life now.)

        2. What would your thoughts be if you believed that
          God was the head of your country – and the
          people who had just captured you were pagans
          (see Habakkuk 1:1-7) who were opposed to your
          God? (How could God allow this? Surely, He
          would correct this.)

    2. Read Jeremiah 29:4-9. What does God mean when He says “do
      not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you?”
      (Some were saying that God was going to fix the problem

      1. How would you describe God’s “solution” to this
        terrible problem? (Make the best of it. Take your new
        situation and try to make your life as normal as
        possible. When God says “seek the prosperity of the
        city to which I have carried you,” I think He is
        saying “Look ahead, not back. Don’t pine for the old
        days, do your best to create good days in your new

      2. Would this advice apply to our sufferings today?
        (Some people pine for how things were in the past. In
        this particular situation God promised that He would
        “fix” the problem in the future by returning His
        people to their homes – 70 years in the future!
        ( Jeremiah 29:10). This was obviously “too late” for
        these people. Their children or grandchildren would
        be rescued. God has a timing in mind for everything.
        Instead of moaning about our situation and wishing
        for yesterday, we need to make the best of today
        knowing that God loves us and He will ultimately make
        things right in the world.)

    3. Friend, suffering of some sort will be a part of your life
      at some time. God promises us eternal life. But, He does
      not promise us that He will explain or fix our problems
      right now. Sometimes He just says, “I love you absolutely,
      trust that I know what I’m doing.” Sometimes He says,
      “Make the best of your situation.” Will you rest in the
      hope that God loves and cares for you? Whether He fixes
      the problems in this world (and your life) now or later,
      He will always do what is best. We can be sure of that
      because He died for us. There is no greater love and
      compassion than that!

  4. Next week: Seeing the Invisible.