Five Years and Still Hoping Against Hope
Founder, Refined Family
Kerry Tittle is a mother of 10 children and a 20+-year homeschool veteran. She is the founder of Refined Family. Her desire is to honor Christ while comforting others with the comfort she has received from the Lord.
My new world doesn’t seem that old, but the numbers say it has been five years.
Five years since the tornado ripped through and destroyed my life taking my husband and precious daughters. Five years since I have heard their laugh. Five years since we had a trauma free life. Five years.
People seem more relaxed around me because it been five years. I play along and sweep my brokenness under the rug so they will feel more at ease. I laugh with them and do life alongside them. But deep within, often there is hopelessness.
I recently was struck by this statement about Abraham:
“In hope he believed against hope.” Romans 4:18a
The more full statement of Paul is this:
In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness[a] of Sarah’s womb.
I had to imagine if I were Sarah, I would be a bit put out with this guy who had a seemingly had a good life in Ur and just chose to pack it all up because he was told to go and then begins believing crazy promises like becoming a father of many nations when you are way past the age of childbearing. If Sarah were from the south she would have told her husband “Honey, that’s just crazy talk!”
But what caught me up short in that verse was that he didn’t weaken in the faith against human reason. It made me flinch, partly because I know that this story is far from over. I mean we haven’t even gotten to the sacrifice of Isaac yet. Secondly, it made me realize that maybe I didn’t have that kind of hope. How does someone get this kind of hope against hope?
Just a short read further as if Paul anticipates this:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
This is one of those verses that well intentioned people have shared with me but which kinda made me cringe. The focus was usually on the rejoicing part. I was always told we need to rejoice and not grieve as those without hope. Well, that’s scriptural and is all fine and good…but seriously how? How do we have that kind of hope?
I went back and pondered ‘Character produces hope’. That didn’t really seem to logically follow to me – until I understood what character was. Character is a Greek word that simply meant proof or evidence that comes by testing. It’s a word that was used with metals to determine their purity or worth. Things began to become clearer to me. Trials are used to cause us to develop endurance. That endurance eventually develops a kind of character that is hardened and tested by the refining fire – it doesn’t melt under the heat. And it is that kind of character that produces a hope that stands when everything points against it – a hope that can believe against hope.
Doesn’t seem like it? I get that.
Abraham pressed on for decades. I am just at the five year mark feeling like it’s been a lifetime.
Abraham was all in and took God at his word. He had hope against hope. He had hope against a hopeless situation. He grew strong in his faith (Romans 4:20) because he was convinced God was able to do what he promised. That kind of crazy faith didn’t happen in five years for Abraham and it probably won’t for us either (that’s the endurance part.). But like a lump of coal being formed by pressure and heat into a diamond, we can rejoice knowing He is working in us and through us during these difficult times developing in us a hardened faith.
As I dawn at the five year mark, I don’t arrive with it all together. I am very much still suffering. But I know that will give way to endurance and someday that endurance will give way to character and that will produce the hope. Many times it seems like that day will never come and that I will be crushed in the meantime, but that’s when the next verse of Romans 5 comes to bear. In Romans 5:5, Paul says:
And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Hope against hope will never disappoint us because what we have been given in a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance – the Holy Spirit. That Spirit testifies that we are God’s children and that we will never be separated from the love of God.
Friend, no matter how weak you feel, Hope against Hope, because God is strong.