“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
Anyone who has lived in North America is familiar with pigeons. I grew up in a farming country in Michigan, and I have memories of my dad chasing them out of the rafters of our 100-plus-year-old barn because they were such a nuisance.
Not long after we moved to our current place of ministry we heard about a man who was known as the Pigeon King. He went around to various farmers in our area and surrounding areas, encouraging them to invest in pigeons, claiming first that he had a market for racing pigeons, then that he was going to build a processing plant to turn them into the new chicken to sell for meat.
All of this was painted as the way to saving their family’s farms. Many farmers invested huge amounts of money with this man, expecting to receive big pay-backs for their investment. They had high expectations of the outcome, but they were greatly disappointed as the whole thing turned out to be a scheme, with many losing a lot of money in the process.
Here are some links for articles if you would like to read about the Pigeon King: https://www.therecord.com/news-story/4418158-galbraith-gets-7-year-prison-term-for-huge-pigeon-king-scam/
Those who invested in this venture came to it with a lot of hopeful expectations of something good coming out of it. They had placed their trust and confidence in this man and his promises, only to have those expectations wing away like a pigeon in flight. Many times in my life, I have had my hopes set on something, only to have them fly away like that pigeon.
I am so thankful that the Word of God teaches me where my hope needs to lie if I am not going to be disappointed. Our blog theme for this new season is “Hope that Doesn’t Disappoint” from Romans 5:5, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Examining the context of these verses helps us to better understand it. In the previous chapter Paul speaks all about Abraham (Romans 4). We have the same faith as our father Abraham who “in hope against hope” believed that God would do what He promised, to give him many descendants, despite his and his wife’s advanced years (see Romans 4:18). Our faith places us in the family of God, no longer His enemies or subject to His wrath and judgment, but kept by His mercy because of Christ’s sacrifice.
This makes us rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, not in anything in this life—not the latest get-rich-quick scheme, not in a relationship with a certain person, not in a specific dream fulfilled, but in the GLORY OF GOD! What greater hope can there be than eternal glory?!
And yet…when things start to get tough here, we lose sight. We settle for lesser things in which to put our hope because they are seen things; they are easier to put our hope in, especially when the tribulation comes.
But what does our passage say? Yes; we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, but EVEN MORE THAN THAT, Paul says, we rejoice in our sufferings (vs. 3)! What?! That makes no sense, does it? Why would we rejoice in our sufferings? We rejoice in our sufferings because they produce endurance and character that lead to HOPE (vs. 4). It’s a hope that doesn’t put us to shame or disappoint us because what God promises, He delivers.
He delivers a love that has been poured out in our hearts. I love how JI Packer explains the Greek rendering of this word “poured out” in this verse in his book Knowing God. He says the word “poured” means “‘dumped’ out. It is the word used of the ‘outpouring’ of the Spirit himself…. It suggests a free flow and a large quantity—in fact, an inundation…. Paul is not talking of faint and fitful impressions, but of deep and overwhelming ones” (p. 118). That is so powerful!
This love that has been dumped on us to overflowing demonstrates that our hope is never going to be put to shame or disappointed. Why? Because He already bore all of our shame and disappointment. It’s taken away. It’s nailed to the cross.
We can place our hope in the Hope of Israel, without fear of being disappointed. There is an excitement and adventure that awaits us if we put feet to this faith or maybe put arms to it, too.
I like how I. Lilias Trotter, a missionary to Muslims in Algeria in the late 1800s and early 1900s, describes this journey of faith we take. She is the author of the words for the song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”.
She says, “Trained faith is a triumphant gladness in having nothing but God–no rest, no foothold—nothing but Himself—A triumphant gladness in swinging out into that abyss, rejoicing in a very fresh emergency that is going to prove Him true—the Lord alone—that is trained faith.”
We must prove Him true and put our HOPE in Him alone. We must use our arms of faith by grabbing hold of Him and swinging out into that abyss, that unknown that might look hopeless from a human perspective, but we know is the joy of living by faith and not sight.
This flight won’t disappoint. When you jump, just don’t pretend you’re a pigeon.
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