A Hope That Will Not Disappoint

 
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“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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.” Romans 5:3-5

I encountered the Holy Spirit at a young age, but it wasn’t until my second year of college when my life radically changed. Serving God became the biggest passion in my life. I loved reading the Word. Leaders like Francis Chan, David Platt, and Matt Chandler became my heroes. I worshiped, praised, and prayed for hours almost everyday. I truly loved God and I wanted to give everything to him.

A year later, I wanted to take my faith to the next level. This desire led me going on a five month mission trip around the US, preaching the gospel for four to eight hours a day. My two partners from Biola University and I left La Mirada, California with no money and no car. Nothing but just clothes and snacks in our backpacking bags. I wanted to see and experience things that could only be done by God.

As the trip ended, I expected to come back as a spiritual giant. I thought I would be even more passionate to serve God. I thought I would gather even more insight from reading the Word. I thought I would pray and worship more than ever. But it was only the opposite. I entered into the darkest spiritual season of my life. I remember every morning waking up and feeling no purpose. It felt as if my body was tied down to my bed. I couldn’t get myself to read the Word like I used to. I would pick up my guitar and praise but only empty words were sung. I lost all passion in Jesus. I remember forcefully praying to God, but everything felt so fake. I was confused and bitter. I felt unloved and unwanted. I felt like a sinner.

After months of this, I stumbled upon a worship night at Biola. That night, I remember the pastor calling me out and prophesying over me during ministry time. Tears began rolling down my face as I felt a glimpse of His love again. I expected my spiritual condition to change that night. But after a week or so, I went back into my dark season. I started feeling the same way again. Yet, one thing changed that night: my perspective. I realized after being prayed for, God was doing something in me when this whole time I thought He was far from me.

One night, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Romans 5:3-5 as I reflected back on my mission trip. The word “endurance” shined brighter than ever before. I knew right then and there, God was calling me to persevere through this season. I realized God used the five month mission trip to lead me into this season to continue taking my faith to the next level. Though I didn’t feel emotional, I began to pray and long for Him because I trusted in Romans 5:3-5. I believed and had faith that as I persevere through this suffering season, perseverance would lead to character, and character would lead to hope. A hope that will not put me to shame because of His love. I fought and no longer relied on my mere emotions. I full-heartedly trusted His word.

This season lasted for nearly two years. Though the mission trip was the most difficult task I have ever done, the season following the trip was the darkest period in my life. Now as I look back, I’m incredibly thankful the Holy Spirit revealed Romans 5:3-5 because God did not disappoint. God did not give up on me. Persevering through this season, the Holy Spirit revealed so much of my religious character. For so long, growing up in church, I felt like if I didn’t do the Christian tasks, God would not love me. But as I persevered in my wilderness season, God gave me immense confidence in His love. Now, even if I don’t go on a radical mission trip, I know I am loved. Even if I fail Him and draw so far from Him, I know His love will never change. Before I served God because I wanted to be loved. After my suffering season, I serve God because I know I am loved.

More often than not, when our lives shift and take an unexpected turn into a wilderness season we tend to get angry, impatient, depressed, tempted, apathetic. We feel misunderstood. We want to escape from anything and everything. Sunday praise feels forced, reading the Bible is the last thing on our mind, and everything about God disinterests us. We feel lazier than ever, unmotivated and discouraged in our calling. We feel distant from our church community. The last thing we want to do is persevere. Perseverance is rare in our culture today. It is far from glamorous. Yet, it was the very thing that kept my spiritual engine running during one of my life’s darkest spiritual seasons.

Perhaps for you this is your season. I want to encourage you to persevere like never before. Meditate on Romans 5:3-5 even if you don’t feel like it. Have faith in truth and not in your emotions. May this be hidden in your heart. I believe every genuine follower of Christ will go through this season and it may be the most important season of our lives. Abraham and Sarah went through the wilderness season before receiving Isaac their son. Joseph experienced the wilderness season before becoming second in command of Egypt. Even Jesus entered into the wilderness season after being baptized by John the Baptist. I pray we will have faith and believe that no matter our circumstance, whether spiritually rich or poor, Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith. Let us persevere in our darkest seasons for His ways are greater than ours.

 
 

Timothy Kang (@_timkang) graduated from California State University Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and is the founder and filmmaker for Kapsule Co. Films (@kapsuleco). He also is a Ministry Leader for God’s Image and currently lives in Buena Park, CA.

 
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