I Corinthians 13 says that three things remain -- faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. Yet, we all need hope.
People often commit suicide for loss of hope. Hope is a belief and a trust in future happiness, that things will work out for good. When we choose to stare at the negative things in life and when we focus on all the evidence that things are horrible and will get worse, it is easy to lose hope and become depressed. Often disappointments get our full attention when they are still fresh, open wounds.
One scripture that got my attention was Romans 5:3-5 says,
(3) And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
(4) and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
(5) 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.
My Hope in Tribulation
As I was going through my own tribulations, I was a little shocked that this passage seemed to imply that tribulations brought hope. That just seemed so wrong -- so counterintuitive. So often when I had gone through tribulations, it seemed every little irritation pricked my heart and my attitude turned sour. I expected everything else would go wrong as well, and I became cynical and complained, spoke sarcastically with sardonic humor. Murphy's law was my mantra.
Then a woman I knew told me she was thankful for all her tribulations. She was young, and I corrected her as I thought she must have meant she was thankful "in" all things, but not "for" all things, but then she corrected me and told me she meant exactly what she said. And I wondered why. Why could she be thankful her brother had a deadly disease? How could she be thankful her father had died a slow death of Parkinson's? And there was much more I cannot share. But, how could she be thankful "for" these things? She told me she was thankful God had been there to prevent it from being worse. She saw a purpose in God letting these things happen, that in spite of the problems, God was doing some kind of work in her life.
How Hope Changed Me
At that time, I began to look at tribulations a little differently. I knew all along that God does not cause sin and He does not cause the horrible results of sin. I know He is fully benevolent and wise in all His ways. But, He knows when and where things will go wrong and what good and bad choices we will make. He knows what horrible tribulations will be suffered by somebody, and he makes the best selection when He chooses who will be brought into that tribulation to experience it.
It is not hard to understand how tribulation can produce patience or perseverence and how perseverence can produce character.
The last leap is from character to hope. Character brings hope -- a faith in God that good things are to come, that God is in control, that love is in control.