In chapter 5 of the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul provides some insights that can help us to see more clearly why we should place our hope in the Lord. He says,

Οὐ μόνον δέ ἀλλὰ καὶ καυχώμεθα ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν εἰδότες ὅτι ἡ θλῖψις ὑπομονὴν κατεργάζεται ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ δοκιμήν ἡ δὲ δοκιμὴ ἐλπίδα (Not alone now but also we vaunt in being-hemmed-in-by-pressure knowing that being-hemmed-in-by-pressure accomplishes remaining-under-patiently and remaining-under-patiently the tested-and-true and the tested-and-true hope.)

We see here two remote causes and a proximate cause of hope.

A remote cause of hope is being-hemmed-in-by-pressure. Any tribulation in our lives that disturbs what we think ought to be causes us anxiety. Anxiety causes a feeling of pressure; we only need to consider a looming deadline in our professional or personal lives that is unavoidable yet we procrastinate on what we need to have completed by that deadline to see “being-hemmed-in-by-pressure.”

A second remote cause is remaining-under-patiently that is usually translated as “perseverance.” St. Teresa of Avila famously said that the spiritual life requires determinada determinación or determined-determination. We need more than just constant contrary action against the pressure situation, but a double-spirit of that constant contrary action. We need to approach these pressure situations by remaining-under-patiently with determinada determinación.

Once we are hemmed in by pressure and remaining-under-patiently with determinada determinación, we find out what is tested-and-true about ourselves, those around us, the tools we use, or any other instance of something involved in this pressure-situation. An artisan who points at a tool and says “that tool may be old, but it’s tried and true for helping me complete these types of jobs” conveys the meaning of tested-and-true. If a person asks us to complete for them a difficult, costly, or personal task without us having any trust or knowledge of this person, we would balk; if a person we know and trust asks us for something difficult, costly, or personal, our friendship is tested-and-true, so we would not balk, but help. When we help, our friend will have hope that now the arduous good sought is within reach.

God wants us to hope in him alone. If we look back on how we treat God, do we believe he is tested-and-true when we are being-hemmed-in-by-pressure? How often do we not give up, protest, complain, or excuse our lack of remaining-under-patiently with determinada determinación? How often do we not even think of God as tested-and-true but turn to ourselves as the origin and completion of how to achieve whatever goal we are seeking? How often are we disappointed and discouraged when we fail to achieve what we thought we could on our own?

We cannot escape being-hemmed-in-by-pressure, but we can in those situations remain-under-patiently with determinada determinación and look to Him who is tested-and-true, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, and therefore have hope under all conditions. Jesus walks with us and cannot by nature fail us; that would make him a liar, which is contrary to his nature.

When you are in the corner, and all the world seems against you, turn to the only tested-and-true God, who has never failed or lied; place all your hope in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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Note: All Scripture translations in this post are my own