rev._joaquin_willis_3.jpgWe all need hope in something or in somebody in order to live a secure life. When we are securely attached to God, we have a hope in Him that never disappoints. So how do we get such hope?

In the Message Bible, Romans 5:1-5 reads: “By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us – sets us right with Him, makes us fit for Him – we [then] have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus, and that’s not all: we throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment He has already thrown open His doors to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand – out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”

Hope is a fruit of our justification by faith. All fruit of the “Tree of Life” are precious. A key fruit from the “Tree of Life” is peace. Sin destroys peace and makes us enemies of God and makes us feel guilty in front of God.

As Adam did when he ate from “The Tree of Knowledge,” Justification by faith takes away our guilt because God cannot and will not honor us or be at peace with us as sinners. But, through Christ, we now have made peace with God.

As sinners, we know the feeling of guilt we carry when God is not at peace with us and we know justification by faith creates peace with God. We all hope to have a faith that produces peace.

Peace and grace are fruits of justification. He who has God’s love and God’s likeness lives in a state of grace. We are, by nature, children of wrath. Our carnal minds are opposed to God because we are not born in a state of grace. It is by faith that we are brought into the state of grace.

Further, to gain both peace and grace, our perseverance must show as we stand firmly and safely upheld by the power of God. We stand as a soldier who stands his ground, not beat down by the enemy. But we must stand in the humble confidence that He who has begun the good work in us will finish it so we can rejoice in that hope.

Those – and they only – who have access by faith to the grace of God may now hope for the glory of God in the life hereafter. Did you know that grace is glory begun on Earth and that grace serves as assurance of our glory to come? To whom God gives grace, He will also give glory. Those who hope for God’s glory have enough grace now to rejoice.

We humans glory in tribulation. One might ask, “Why?” Well, it’s because tribulation produces patience. And it’s by the grace of God working in the mist of tribulations that our tribulations go on to prove we have faith. And, by proving our faith, we improve our patience. It is through the struggle to create patience that we find that our joy and our happiness emerge.

This is why Jeremiah, in 29:11,  writes in his letter to the Jewish exiles, “Thus says the Lord, I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you… and bring you back from captivity.”

In a similar manner to gaining peace and grace, perseverance works to produce character and character, in turn, produces hope, the hope that does not disappoint. This is a hope that does not put us to shame, either, because it is a hope rooted in God’s love which has been poured into our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is the hope that does not disappoint, because it is a hope also sealed with the Holy Spirit, in the Spirit of God’s love. Our sensing of God’s love for us makes us unashamed of our hope in Him and our suffering for Him.

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or