Hope-filled “Hupomone” Love

May 19, 2015

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”  (I Corinthians 13:7-8, J.B. Phillips)

We read in the book of Hebrews:  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.”  The inspired author of the great faith chapter means that the object of faith is always unseen, and faith gives substance to our hope that the object of our faith exists.  In other words, faith puts a foundation under our hope.  We hope until faith gives us reason to believe. (Hebrews 11:1)

When faith cannot place a foundation under our hope for the ones we love, all we can do is hope for them.  According to the love hymn of Paul, the one applying the love of Christ will hope for them. Love joyfully awaits for the fulfillment of what it prayerfully desires, imagines, dreams and hopes concerning the potential of the ones we love.

When Paul writes, “Love endures all things,” he means love perseveres while it awaits the fulfillment of what it hopes and believes to see in the lives of the ones being loved.  The Greek word translated as ‘endurance’ is ‘hupomone.”  It is a combination of two Greek words, to ‘abide‘ and ‘under,‘ whatever is required to love someone.

This is especially important when we love a person who is not responding to our loving, positive reinforcement.  This quality of loving perseverance equips believers to love and pray loved ones through their addictions to alcohol, chemical substances, pornography, gambling, eating disorders and the seemingly endless list of compulsive habits.

These ‘chains’ of the evil one can only be broken with supernatural assistance from God, often using, as conduits, those who love with this love that hopes, believes, and endures all things.  By their actions they make this statement to those they love:  “Nothing you do or say can make me stop loving you because I’m loving you with the love of Christ.  The love of Christ is tough love.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Adversity or Atrophy

October 15, 2013

“…  Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress…”  (Psalm 4:1 KJV)

Just about every emotional challenge we experience today was faced by the psalmist many years ago.  If we will observe what he did when he struggled, and receive from God the grace to respond as the hymn writer responded, we can often overcome our emotional challenges.

In Psalm 4 the psalmist faces the emotional challenge of distress.  If you drop the first two letters, the word becomes stress.  We all have stress.  If we do not have stress we atrophy.  I have not put stress on my legs for 30 years.  Consequently, my legs are the size of your arms. “If you don’t use it you lose it” is the way the physical therapists describe atrophy.

Our loving Father God knows that what is true for our bodies is also true in our spiritual life. God is fiercely committed to the proposition that we are going to grow spiritually.  If we have no spiritual stress we will experience spiritual atrophy.  He therefore will not only permit, but direct into our lives any stress that will grow us as He gives us the grace to cope with that stress.

God tells us through the prophet Isaiah: “I create calamity” (Isaiah 45:7).  Many of us can trust God for the good things that comfort and sustain us.  But do we have the faith and the knowledge of God to see Him in the challenges that make the difference for us between spiritual growth and atrophy?

The Greek compound word hupomone, translated as “perseverance” in our English Bibles, literally means “to abide under.”  To apply hupomone, we should ask God for the grace to abide under stress, grow spiritually, and not atrophy.