Here in Middle Tennessee, we’ve had a lovely fall. The changing of the leaves has produced some beautiful vistas this year. Out our back door are a few deciduous trees. One tree, a maple, I think, was particularly lovely. Most afternoons, we’d sit outside and marvel at its beauty…until a strong wind sent most of the leaves to their demise. Except two leaves at the end
of one of the branches. Those two have endured everything that nature has thrown at it. They bend in the breeze, but never let go. Right now, they are still hanging on almost as if defying whatever has destroyed their fellow foliage. I look out every day expecting to see a barren stem, but no, these two are hanging in there. I have to wonder, too, if their being together gives them the stamina. Another lesson in the everyday.
Perseverance. It is a virtue possible in all of us, but it is developed through a process of perhaps unsavory conditions and hardships. Paul wrote to the Roman church:
“…we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint…” (Romans 5: 3-5). This is when one trial leads to another to achieve an ultimate goal. The maple tree doesn’t seem to have a goal, but its example to me is profound.
We have friends and family right now who are clinging to hope through horrific trials. Hang in there. Hold on. Don’t let go. Let these times produce perseverance, character, and hope. And it’s the kind of hope that does not disappoint, so says the scripture.
When I was researching my book The Words We Sing, I found that the word “hope” (which we sing at church often) is hard to define in biblical terms, because it’s been corrupted by the world as “making a wish” or “looking on the bright side.” But in research for the book, I discovered something different, and I wrote:
“… hope is not merely expectations and desires as the world might see it, but involves trust, confidence and refuge in God. Another dictionary said that hope is the certainty that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our place in what God will do in the future.”
“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, through perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Romans 8:24-25)