Hope in the Midst of Despair

MEMORY SELECTION: “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” —Romans 8:28


OUR memory selection gives us a clue as to whom the lesson is addressed. God’s overruling providences are at work in the lives of those “who are the called according to his purpose.” In the same chapter of Romans, verses 14-17, we read: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption [sonship—margin], whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him [together—Diaglott], that we may be also glorified together.”

It is God’s purpose to call out from the world a little flock of people who have faith and who are willing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, sharing in his sufferings and death. These have the prospect, if faithful, of being joint-heirs with Jesus in the kingdom. It is to these that the promise of God’s overruling providence applies in all the experiences of life.

In verses 22,23 of our selected scripture Jesus indicates the kind of suffering and experiences that will come to those who endeavor to walk in the footsteps of Jesus: “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.”

It is these kinds of experiences that the Heavenly Father permits his children to have in order that they might develop patience, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, and love. These are the fruits and graces of the Spirit, and when fully developed, the Christian is spoken of as mature.

Even Jesus, during the three and one-half years of his ministry, was required to suffer these things in order that he might prove himself obedient under difficult and trying circumstances and that the fruits and graces of the Spirit might be crystallized in his new mind.

The Apostle Paul wrote of the experiences of Jesus in this regard as follows: “For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect [mature] through sufferings.” (Heb. 2:10) And again in Hebrews 5:8,9, he states, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect [mature], he became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

And so Jesus, as the Captain of his footstep followers, suffered, first to set an example, and also that he might be a sympathetic high priest, touched with a feeling of our infirmities. (Heb. 4:15; 2:18) The Apostle Peter states: “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. … For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”—I Pet. 2:19,21

And so the footstep followers of Jesus are promised trials and sufferings, but along with the trials they are promised that God will not permit them to be tempted beyond that which they are able to bear. This, together with the assurance that God’s overruling providences will make all things work together for our eternal good, stamps us the most blessed of all people, even in the midst of despair. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”—Rom. 8:28

Dawn Bible Students Association
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