In chapter four, Paul expresses his hope and why his hope is undaunted. Despite all that goes on, he never despairs. This makes this chapter a great source of hope ourselves and teaches us how to persevere in faith and hope.
It is in God’s mercy that Paul has any hope (1). God calls Paul to the ministry to preaching the truth about our Lord Jesus. He knows that God would see to it that God would accomplish His work. There is no reason to despair. Paul simply preaches the truth regardless of how it is received. He does not try to hide particular teachings that God has set forth; he tells it plainly. Nor does he teach something just so he can be liked. Many times, wanting to be liked leads a person to not tell the truth. When we want to be liked, that is when peer pressure can take us down another road. Paul does not hide anything from those who are open to God’s word. It does great damage to many souls when, particularly, a priest tells people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. It takes great courage and faith to speak the truth at all times. It is all part of the integrity of the faith.
It is not Paul that Paul preaches (5). Paul is not preaching with self-interest. Paul does talk about himself, but there is something different with how he speaks. He is not interested in a pity party. He sees his suffering and struggle as a blessing. Paul suffers in many different ways, but he knows this is the path that others may know it is God’s work, not Paul’s work (7).
What can be particularly comforting is where Paul writes, “we are…full of doubts, we never despair” (8). So many people think that doubts are always against faith. We may have many doubts. We may have doubts that things will go our way. As Christians we may think we are doing God’s will, only to come up against a wall. We ask God why He is not making our efforts easy or just happen. We want God to do His work as we see fit. Paul himself had to constantly ask God what His will was. Many times, Paul thought he was doing God’s will, when all of a sudden, Jesus took Paul in another direction. Obstacles abounded whenever Paul tried to do God’s holy will. Yet he knew that it is God’s work and that He would make it come about. In this chapter, Paul understands that he can have confidence that God will complete His work in those to whom he is writing (13-15). So in our sufferings, it is not a sin to have doubts. Keep going and do not despair. There is always hope in our Lord Jesus. It is not a hope in this or that project. It is hope that Our Lord Jesus will always be at our side and guide us to His holy will.
This hope in Jesus makes a person, in a certain sense, rugged. They can persevere through incredible opposition. Paul says his “inner being is renewed each day even though our body is being destroyed at the same time” (16). Paul is living out the promise Jesus made in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-13). He has his eyes fixed on something greater than what this world has to offer. The prize is hidden in what is not seen. He is looking at the glory of heaven that awaits him. He knows he is building up a treasure in heaven beyond all understanding. So many people treat life as if what is not seen is not true. How foolish they become in not recognizing the creator of all things with this attitude.
Yet at the same time, we can thank God that He did enter this world and became visible to us. Thank God He was born of a virgin for all to see and believe.