Upside-Down Nature of Hope
The Surprise Found in Suffering
by Randy Brewer
One of the most upside-down, seemingly contradictory things about hope is that it is born by its polar opposite. It comes when we are facing hopeless situations. The Bible states: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom 5:3-5).
In the midst of life’s most difficult encounters, hope is revealed–greeting us like a faithful companion, emboldening us like a strong champion.
It’s as though hope dares darkness to squelch the light.
Hope asserts that it can overcome the blackest situation. Indeed, it can turn dark to light, difficulty to success, death to life. Like a skilled judo wrestler, it will use the very power of hardship against itself, bringing victory.
Hope also operates like the sequoia tree. The seeds only come out of the pod if there is fire. The grand, glorious trees that grow to enormous heights and live for over a thousand years are birthed by flames–the thing that normally destroys.
Adversity, in my case, could be met by cynicism–“See Randy, you weren’t really healed.” But hope turns that mocking scorn on its ear. Hope scoffs at its would-be scoffers. Hope says to the mayhem of life, “Give me your best shot, and I will replace it with God’s best in return.” I can say this with confidence, because I’ve seen it operate firsthand in my life.
The worst life could offer has been turned into the best God intended. Is there any greater reason to hope?! I see and bear witness to the fact that God has turned my bad for good, even the tremendous dysfunctions of my youth. The Bible says, “…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” (Rom 5:20). And I am experiencing that in greater and greater measure.