Hope. It’s the oxygen our souls need to thrive. Hope is the wild-eyed creature that pops up after the enemy tries to eradicate the very beating of faith in our hearts. It’s the essence of being a Christ-follower and as a hopeless, broken world watches us, they question, “If hope does not disappoint us, why are Christians disappointed all the time?” Before we can answer that question, we need to define what hope is.

Hope looks like seeing hundreds of fireflies lighting up a dark night.

Hope is Hannah praying fervently, knowing God hears her but she’s taken for a drunken fool.

Hope is a father forgiving his wayward child.

Hope is the oxygen our souls breathe.

Hope is a torrential downpour that washes the world clean.

Hope is millions of little green shoots being unearthed and reaching to the heavens.

Hope is praying your loved one will be found alive after tragedy strikes.

Hope is knowing we will be reunited with our loved ones on the other side of heaven.

Hope is the soldier who begged Jesus to use His words to heal his son miles away.

Hope is a foster child finding his forever home in a family that fiercely loves him.

Hope is watching your autistic child make a friend.

Hope is walking hand in hand with Christ.

What Does ‘Hope Does Not Disappoint Us’ Mean?

“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).

The biblical definition of hope is “confident expectation.” Christian hope is rooted in faith in the divine salvation in Christ (Galatians 5:5) and through the love poured into us through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

What have you been hoping for? Did anything above resonate with your heart? Or have you given up? Maybe you’re too afraid to invest in hope again because you dread the possibility of losing all hope. Or perhaps you don’t remember what hope even feels like anymore. If you’re in this camp, we need to go back to the Bible to understand God’s hope isn’t the same as the world’s hope. God’s hope isn’t the same as the world’s definition of hope. Both denote a positive expectation, but the world’s hope is rooted in a fallible person, situation, or thing. God’s hope is rooted in Him. The basis of Christian hope is found in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for.” The Greek word for hope in this passage is ‘hypostasis.  Paul wrote in the book of Hebrews, “Faith is the ‘hypostasis of things hoped for…” which literally means “that which underlies.” Meaning our faith in Christ underlies our hope, the deeper our faith is, the more difficult it is for hope to be overthrown and turned into disappointment. A hope that does not disappoint means God has given us hope that rises in the midst of disappointment. This kind of hope is found not in the avoidance of suffering but the working through it because, suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

What Is the Context of Romans 5:5?

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous (justified) through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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 5:1-5.

We learn what hope means in God’s kingdom through the words of Paul beginning in the fifth chapter of Romans. Here, Paul tells us we have justice, peace, grace, perseverance, character, and hope which is all built on the faith we have in Christ. The kind of hope that does not disappoint that Paul is talking about here is the kind of hope that only God can give. This kind of hope relies on God—His power, His promises, and the sacrifices He made for us. This type of hope carries a promise because of what He has accomplished. As we read through the rest of Romans 5, we learn we have this hope because Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). We have been justified and we will be delivered from all things. God didn’t save us based on our own righteousness. We were saved because of God’s Son. This hope points to glory – “we boast in our hope of sharing in the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).

This means, no matter what comes our way: suffering, turmoil, tragedy, death, and heartbreak. God will conquer it all. In other words, “Hope has a sanctifying effect. We who look expectantly for the return of Christ, knowing that when we see him we shall become like him, purify ourselves “as he is pure” (1 John 3:3 ). Hope also stimulates good works. Following his teaching on the resurrection of the dead, Paul exhorts his readers to do the Lord’s work abundantly since such “labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:51-58 ).”

How Can Christians Hope When They Experience Disappointments?

Throughout Scripture, we find the same message trusting in God’s promises and hoping in the Lord:

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” Hebrews 10:23.

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance” Ephesians 1:18.

“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope” Psalm 130:5.

If you read in between the scriptures about hope, you’ll also find hundreds of people in the Bible who experienced disappointment: Adam, Eve, Hagar, Job, Hannah, Moses, Sarah David, Jacob, Gideon, the Disciples, Paul, Elijah, and others.

Even Jesus experienced disappointment during his ministry: when the people didn’t receive His message, when His disciples struggled with doubt, or when He encountered legalistic religious leaders who wanted to kill Him. Yet, each of these accounts of real-life people are marked by moments of overcoming disappointment. They also went to accomplish great things for God and some even accomplished things beyond their wildest dreams. The common thread of each of them was their hope in God. Their belief in God was bigger than their disappointment. Instead of blaming God when tragedy struck, instead, they turned to God. John W. Marten says, “Hope in God transcends the lost hopes of human frailty and sin and begins to take effect in our lives precisely when human hopes are gone” (Rom. 4:18).

How can Christians hope when we experience disappointments? We put our hope in the Lord as we look at Paul’s example in Philippians 4:4. Here, Paul was suffering greatly but he was writing to the church in Philippi which happened to be a church that was exceptionally poor. But Paul was writing to them to encourage them to keep hoping as they learn to be content with having much or little. Paul wrote to encourage them through his example walking with Christ, that even in the midst of disappointment, he could deal with humble means or prosperity. No matter the circumstance Paul persevered through hope because he “can do all things through Christ, (Philippians 4:13, ESV).

The same One who strengthened Paul and provided contentment, courage, and hope is the same One working all things together—even disappointment—for our good (Romans 8:28). Because of Jesus’ power at work in us, we can breathe in His kind of Hope that does not disappoint.

Related Resource: Listen to our FREE podcast, Reframed: The Power of Perspective. In each episode, Carley provides practical techniques for identifying and reframing negative thinking patterns. Listen to an episode below, and check out all of our episodes on LifeAudio.com.

Photo credit: ©Raychan/Unsplash

Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal,  Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.  

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture’s context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God’s Word in relation to your life today.

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