Finding hope in hard times

During my morning devotion today I read a verse that I’ve read numerous times.  I’ve taught from it a few times, especially when leading a chronic pain and illness Bible study group a couple of years ago.

“…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” — Romans 5:3-4

Today, however, God opened my eyes to see it in a new light.  All this time I thought that I need to have hope from the beginning.  I’ve been looking at hope as a sort of optimistic attitude.  But, that’s not what this verse is saying.  Hope doesn’t come until we’ve been through some tough stuff.

Back in June of 2007, my husband lost his job.  He is our most reliable income and provider of health insurance, so it was a big blow to our family.  As the days, weeks, months and nearly a year passed before he got another job, we went through quite a rocky road.  I struggled with hope to say the least.  It was hard to be hopeful when the outlook seemed so bleak and grim as so much of what we had worked hard for was slipping through our fingers.

I realize now, that was OK.  God didn’t say we needed hope from the get-go of trials.  That comes later.  That comes after we have faith and trust that even when it’s really stinking hard, God is still in control.  And He hasn’t forgotten us.  Even looking back now, a few years later, I still can’t tell you how we made it.  I can’t tell you how our mortgage got paid every month or how food ended up on our table.  God just made a way.  We didn’t have to have hope that He would do so; we just had to trust and follow.  We had to persevere.

Looking back, I can see where hope started to creep in.  I can see where our trials made us realize even more fully where to place our real hope.  It wasn’t in a paycheck or savings account (though both really do come in handy), but it was in God.  We had to rely on His provisions more than at any other point in our lives.  And through that we realized that if we have God, that’s all that matters.

My husband and I had sort of a motto through that difficult year that we’ve continued to live by: “I’d rather go through hard times with you than easy times without you.”  While that is true in our marriage, it’s also true in our relationship with God.  Eventually, once we get past ourselves and out of our heads, we find our hope in God to go on living life even when it’s hard.  I truly can’t imagine facing life’s trials without God in my corner.

Hope doesn’t always come in the beginning of adversity.  It can be a long time coming, but persevering through the journey with God will always lead to hope.  Always.

A few months ago, we faced the same situation one more time when my husband’s company was bought out.  Thanks to our experience in the past, we were able to be more hopeful this time around.  Partially, it was scarier in that we now have a child, but we knew that God would remain faithful.  He was what we could confidently place our hope in.

And He has more than seen us through.  This is my husband’s final week with that company.  Its doors are shutting on Friday.  But, God has blessed him with a better opportunity and more than we could have ever dreamed right now.  I thank God for His blessings.  And I remain hopeful in Him, no matter how easy or difficult the road may get.  I have the promise that even when I lose some hope again, if I stick with Him, He’ll find a way to restore my hope and remind of what and Who is most important.

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