The Pathway to Hope

There is a definitive pathway to hope.

I’m not sure we all know about it because it isn’t a pathway anyone would necessarily choose to walk.

In fact, I believe that many of us don’t acknowledge this pathway to hope, because we may become frustrated, surrender to discouragement and despair, get stuck, go back, or decide there must be an alternate route – anything – anything – anything – but this burden-some, soul-searching trail.

Yet, to reach hope and to truly discover the joyous fulfilment of all that is ours in Christ, there is no other way.

Paul emphasized this point to the Roman church. He exhorted them to take hold of their present challenges and walk this onerous path. In so doing, they would increase their joy, enlarge their confidence, and grow their hope in Christ.

… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.

New International Version, Romans 5: 3

For the past two weeks, our family has been serving in a country in which its people could write volumes about the pathway to hope. Their tribulations, their distresses, and their pressures seem to continue without end.

In fact, one of my local friends shared, “To live in the rural areas is so difficult. The work never ends. The trouble never stops. Everyone is so tired and so weary. To survive we must solely depend upon God and pray His promises into our lives without ceasing. Without His hope, we are lost.”

My friend understands, firsthand, that to become a people of hope the journey begins with tribulation.

The course way to hope could look like this:

Suffering      to             Perseverance          to           Character       to             Hope

Would you begin such a journey to hope – if it began with suffering?

I’m not sure many would.

Much of our world is obsessed with comfort, short-cuts, quick-fixes, and ease. In fact, the more safe, stress-free and less-taxing the situation, the better and more secure our lives will be.

Recently, our family spent two weeks without electricity, little to no access to internet, concerted water conservation efforts, adapting to the most basic and most fundamental ways to construct needed tools and structures, and enjoyed cooking and baking from scratch. Our family and friends lived life as our northern neighbors do – all the time. There was no easy way. There were no short-cuts. Quick fixes? No. Stress-free? When your life is dependent upon the weather, upon the crops that grow, upon the environment and its offerings, and upon your skill and ingenuity, then yes, there is great stress and great strain. However, if one remains focused upon the adversity, then discouragement and despair is where one would remain.

I was approached by a couple of gals this past week. They believed that leaving their current life- situations could only improve their standard of living. They saw me as a pathway to opportunity. The problem with their appraisal was that they had no true venture in sight. They wanted me to pave the way for them. Unfortunately, things don’t work that way in our part of the world. There are required entry paths – even our family must abide by and work through such conditions. I couldn’t do what they asked of me. As I thought about it all, I recognized that they hadn’t embraced the journey to hope yet. They were struggling with their tribulation, their pressures, and their distress. It is understandable. Their lives are very difficult. Very difficult. I do not begrudge them.

Yet, to overcome their adversities, perseverance is needed. For afflictions, distress, hardships, grief, pain and misery, oppression, persecution, betrayal, and any and all type of misfortune and woe have the capacity to strengthen us. Each challenge we face potentially exercises and increases our patience, our forbearance, and our expectation for Christ and His Kingdom to come. We become steadfast and sure in our faith.

In so doing, our character is proven. Instead of becoming discouraged, embittered, angry, disheartened, fearful, or numb to the challenges we have experienced, we embrace them!  Our tried and true character and worth arise from the ashes of our pain and hardship.

Finally, finally, finally, our hope in Christ is born anew! Our joyful expectation in Christ and His Kingdom to come is our life-sustaining heart beat!

You see, Friends, our hope is dependent upon our soul’s response to the difficulties we face in life.

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Sometimes, people place our African friends on a pedestal. They see the joy that radiates from many of our African brothers and sisters’ faces. They believe my African friends have something special in their character and countenance that they lack. If you were to ask me, I would tell you that behind many of my African friends’ smiling faces and joyous expressions is a hope and expectation in Christ and His Kingdom to come.

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They believe God is at work in their lives. They believe that God sees their challenges. They believe that God knows what is best. And they believe that God knows their hearts. Many of my African brothers and sisters have suffered unimaginable struggles. And even now, many are continuing to suffer – but in the midst of these trials – they persevere, their character is honed, and their hope is grown. They choose to live out the words of old:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

New International Version, Proverbs 3: 5-6

Many of my African brothers and sisters’ belief in God and His ultimate good inspires their decisions to trust in Him and await His purposes to be fulfilled in their lives – on earth and in God’s Kingdom to come! Such is a lifestyle and belief system that is grounded in hope – the joyful confidence and expectation in Christ. That is truly heartening in a day and age when so many of this world desire what is finite, temporary and lacking of any long-term or eternal benefit.

Thus, my friends, for us to truly be people of hope, we must overcome in the process of our becoming in Christ. Our challenges and difficulties are the instruments which God uses to help us grow as people of hope. We mature in patience, wisdom, and perseverance. Our character is strengthened. Our trust in God is deepened. And we develop a greater confidence and a greater, more expansive hope in God for today and for the future!

How does that happen?

It begins with a decision to walk the pathway to hope – through suffering, with perseverance, and in tried and true character.

Will we choose such a journey – to hope?

My African friends do:

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… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.

New International Version, Romans 5: 3-4

5 thoughts on “The Pathway to Hope

  1. How wonderfully you expressed your love and care!! Well described how god is the best hope to overcome all adversities!!

    1. Thank you for stopping by – I appreciate your affirmation. Truly, the pathway to hope is found ultimately in faith in Jesus Christ. I pray you have a lovely, lovely day!

  2. Beautiful and challenging, Heather; thank you!

    1. Thank you, Jan! I hope you are well! We’ve been away for a bit, thus my slow reply! Blessings to you!

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