Sometimes it’s not about doing it pretty, but simply holding on long enough to see it through.
Although it’s midnight and it seems like the sun will never appear, the key isn’t to run from darkness but to see it through until dawn appears on the horizon. It’s at these times that hope is the crucial ingredient in making it out the other end.
But hope doesn’t just happen. Hope is a precious virtue forged in the crucible of difficulty, and Paul encourages us to embrace and not run from difficult times:
‘We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope’ – Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)
Although the source of suffering may be out of our control, the way we travel through it is up to us. The person who seeks to avoid suffering by hitting the eject button will never have the chance to develop perseverance. But the person who chooses to embrace times of difficulty in the same way a fitness junkie embraces the bench press will grow the muscles of endurance even stronger.
As the endurance levels begin to grow, the character of the body begins to take shape until it’s ready for anything – and instead of hope being something to reach for, it becomes something that defines you.
To the extent that a person has the capacity to endure difficulty is the exact proportion of hope that person will live with. You’ve made it through once, and you will make it through again. Whatever situation seemed so impossible this time last year is all but forgotten – just as the mountain you are faced with now will look no bigger than a speed hump as you look in the rear view mirror in a few months from now.
The great news is that in all of this we are not left on our own. God doesn’t wait on the other side of the tunnel to tease you with His flashlight. Instead, He is committed to walk with you and give you the strength you need to endure every season:
‘I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength’ – Philippians 4:13 (NLT)
Don’t ever give up. Dawn is on its way! Don’t rob yourself from the opportunities ahead of you as you trust in the One who has called you to live life to the full!