Finding Hope in Unexpected Places

Sara Torbett - Stronger

Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

When I first read the verse above, I wondered if my Bible had a typo. Wasn’t hope supposed to be at the beginning of the list? That’s certainly where I wanted it to be.

I didn’t like the idea of going through suffering, perseverance, and character to get to hope.

My thoughts reflect our culture today. We view hope as an emotion rather than an outcome of choices we make. We also think hope should be automatic. Then when we don’t find it right away, we despair. But this passage makes it clear that hope is a process.

The first step in that process is suffering. Loss is a part of life. We’ll all endure hardship and heartache on this side of heaven. When we suffer, we have two choices: press on or give up. Jim Rohn once said, “We all must suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

If we choose discipline and perseverance, then this pattern gradually becomes part of who we are—our character. Character doesn’t change based on circumstances or who is watching at the moment. As Dwight L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark.”

Character also becomes a light in the dark because it eventually results in hope. This kind of hope is not a vague feeling or wish. Instead it’s a deep knowledge that you and God can get through anything together. That’s the heart of hope: choosing to walk with God through the valleys of life and finding that He will never leave you–and that you will never leave Him either.

We all wonder how our faith will fare when challenges come our way. If you’re still reading this, my guess is you’re choosing perseverance and character. You’ve faced what you never wanted, and your faith is surviving, perhaps even thriving. Even if you have doubts, fears, and many difficult moments, you’re pressing on and moving forward. And I’m cheering you on with every step…no matter how small or slow.

Take heart, friend, you are doing better than you know. Jesus is with you. Your sisters are for you. And hope is on its way.


Holley Gerth

photo and quote design by Sara Torbett {download free on flickr!}

p.s. Hope often finds us when in the most unlikely of places. Claire Diaz-Ortiz experienced this firsthand and shares her story in Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption. I’m giving away a copy of Claire’s book today and if you comment or link up by midnight CST on Friday you’ll be entered to win. Update: congrats to Lina for winning the giveaway!

Hope Runs****

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  1. says

    ‘That’s the heart of hope: choosing to walk with God through the valleys of life and finding that He will never leave you–and that you will never leave Him either.’

    This feels profound for me today, Holley.
    Thank you for cheering me on…even in my painfully small, slow steps.
    Thank you.

  2. says

    Totally with you here, Holley – I want hope first and I definitely don’t want to suffer or persevere! :-) Love your reminder about our hope choosing to walk with God regardless of what life brings.

  3. says

    I really appreciate your understanding of scripture, Holley, and your willingness to share this wisdom with us. I’m looking at this verse with fresh eyes today, and it’s a great encouragement. Your ministry blesses me!

  4. says

    Oh Holley, your words speak right to my heart; they always do. Thank you for reminding me that hope is a process. Appreciate your encouragement through words! Love you! ♥

  5. says

    I lived Romans 5.3-5 in 2002 and I can say with experience and testimony that it is absolute TRUTH. Suffer > Persevere > Hope
    And, HOPE, has been the theme of my life ever since.

  6. says

    This is beautiful!! And as you might have noticed by now via my comments this week, I’ve had a rough time. What you say is so true and it’s awesome to read and see the truth. I guess I have build character and hope over time 😉 . Through my suffering of many years that is exactly what I have developed. This weekend I was in severe darkness but in the midst I knew God was doing something. I had hope. It is so miraculous to be able to see hope when suffering. By Sunday I had a breakthrough and some really old pains and darkness moved through me as I cried it out. All weekend I knew something was happening, I just held on and it brought hope for the future. God is cleaning out, emptying me only to fill it with His good over time. I am patient because I have hope!

  7. Judy says

    This verse has been on my heart lately, too. I want to have Godly hope.
    I’d love to read this book by Claire!

  8. says

    Oh yes, yes, yes. I was nodding in agreement through each line. What a difference in life when you finally break through that chronic state of regret – and into the place of perseverance! Thank you for this post.

  9. says

    Ah, I’ve lived that order, but never thought about it before. As a Christian, I guess that means that when I see others suffering, I need to com alongside them in an active way rather than just dishing out platitudes to ‘Keep up the hope’–if they’ve never suffered and persevered, they won’t know how to ‘keep up the hope’.

  10. says

    I felt that was being led in the spirit to visit your blog today. God wanted to remind me to hang on to my hope and your message was right on time. It’s sometimes hard to remember that our trust needs to be in God and not our circumstances. Thank you for the reminder!

  11. Cheri Andrews says

    Thank you for your words of encouragement today, Holley! I needed the reminder of what comes with the suffering and trials. I appreciate you sharing your heart!

  12. Jane Squires says

    I am finding it hard to hold onto hope right now. I have author friends and people who are encouragers on fb. Sometimes I want to just quit after 55 years. I lost my medical when my husband retired so owe over $ 5000 in bills. I am making payments but hospitals and clinics turn everything over to collection agencies regardless. They want full payment or want collection agency to harass you.
    So it is stressful and they call my cell phone. Then now starter went out of our car. So third time getting glasses is out of question for both my husband and I and I have mine taped to even wear them. So it is a daily battle right now.
    Enter me to win. I review every book I win.

  13. Myrtle Pfister says

    Holley your word so often touch my heart and give me encouragement at the precise moment I need those words. This is one of those times. I am in a valley and trying to keep looking to God for direction, protection, hope and of course love. I sense His prescense with me and know He is there, with me but I just do not understand why so much all at once in each area of my life.. I ask and all that comes back…is….I am equipping you. I so want to do what God wants me to do and I trust Him totally. I do have moments of sadness for things lost or people lost whom I thought loved me, but in reality did not even really love themselves ,,so they have a time loving anyone in the truest sense of the word. I have reached the point of forgiveness, and I know that the way I got there was He who gives me the strength to get there. I have so much going on right now, but the email today was a ray of “sonshine” to my soul and heart…thank you so very much Holley

  14. says

    Yes…I really wish biblical hope could be obtained without suffering but then I look at Christ on the cross and how He died to give me that confident hope in Him…blessings this Easter week to you :)

  15. says

    “We view hope as an emotion rather than an outcome of choices we make.” THIS!!

    Holley this is so good. So much wisdom here. Thank you for sharing these words. As always I am challenged to lean into Him more after reading your words. Thank you

  16. Petra says

    Thank you, thank you! At the moment I feel like my life is like white water rafting, not in an exhilarating fun way, more a hanging on, terrifying white knuckle sort of way, but I’m hanging on, and I suppose that’s perseverance. I just thank The Lord he’s in the boat too helping me to hang on. God bless you, Holley, and thanks for being there xx

    • Nancy says

      I’ve been in that situation–literally! Hanging on to the raft, rather terror stricken, wondering why some people call this fun, and praying my way through the white water… Many white water rivers are actually stunningly beautiful (think Grand Canyon…). Look up from the water to see the amazing beauty of creation surrounding you… maybe it won’t feel quite so scary. Praying for you, sister, as you take this wild ride! that when you come through to the other side, back to the lazy waters, you’ll be able to appreciate the ride and give God the glory for holding you on the boat..

  17. Lina says

    Thank you Holley for this very important reminder… it is hard to remember sometimes during the suffering that the hope comes next!


  18. Jacque says

    Thank you Holley for this. I don’t think I had ever really thought about the order of that passage- that hope was at the end of the others.

    I always appreciate you and your insight.
    Hugs to you,

  19. Sowjanya says

    I really needed this today. Your blog has always been very motivating but today it touched my heart like never before. I have learnt that my suffering would end in hope.

  20. says

    Oh, man, I do want hope to come first. But it doesn’t. Yet we’re still promised it will come. Sometimes the process is hard and long, but it’s always worth it. I really appreciate your sweet reminder here today.

  21. Georgia says

    Thank you for this post today, Holley. I really needed to read it. I have forwarded to my sister as well. I am currently reading your book “You are going to be okay”. Thank you for allowing God to use you to inspire and encourage others with your writings.

  22. says

    Thanks, Holley, for your wonderful words of truthful hope. I have prayerfully mulled over that passage in Romans 5 for many years and loved what you added to my thinking today. In looking back over the past 14 challenging years of waiting on God, I’m amazed to often hear myself say, “I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.” They have brought me to a place of sweet intimacy with Jesus like never before–and, yes, to a place of abounding hope in Him.

  23. says

    This was a perfect post for me today as I go through a heart wrenching trial. Thank you. I will be printing this out to refer back to as I keep dealing with hard stuff. Thanks for the hope! :)

  24. Hannah says

    Thank you for this. Great reminder as I go through hard times and need to remember that God is with me through it all.

  25. Marni says

    What a perfect encouragement for me today. I struggle with insomnia and last night had a particular horrid night (about 1 hour total of broken sleep). I’m numb with fatigue, and rage, despair, and frustration is simmering under the surface. This affirms me once again I still have a choice.

  26. Lisa Drinnan says

    Hi Holley
    Your posts are the first I read each day. They are so relevant , challenging me, encouraging me, always with Christ’s heart. No one likes the way “character” is formed- but His ways are not our ways..I too have been through deep,dark valleys – but Wow, how God has worked in me during those times. My Hope is only in Christ, all the rest- circumstances, relationships, things -they all can change – my Jesus doesn’t.
    Thanks Lisa

  27. Susan says

    Marni I am praying for you. My life fell apart last summer due to insomnia. My Hope remained with my family physician who finally got me on the right medication. It isn’t always easy but I can get a total of 8 hours of sleep now. God saw me through the rough spots, never leaving me. There is hope always. I will pray you can find your solution and soon. Blessings going forward.

  28. Babs C. says

    {{Sigh!}} Oh, how I needed to read this perfect word of encouragement on the process of hope!! I didn’t realize my need for this,until I was reading and suddenly the sighs began escaping my being. Wow. It always amazes me how powerful words are and how much strength and healing can be given through words written about the truths of God and His Words. Thank you, Holley, for again using your gift to craft this beautiful blend of quotes and scripture and truth and pure encouragement. God’s love beams a hope-filled light through your offerings of friendship and simple truths. My hope is in Christ alone, yet my faith is strengthened by my sisters and I’ve found rest today in this beautiful word. Bless you, dear Holley, and my prayers continue to be with you!

  29. Joanne says

    Your post really spoken to me; I have been suffering greatly for five years. I have used a lot of energy trying to escape my pain and get to the other side. I have blamed myself that I am still suffering, and questioned whether I am wallowing in my pain as it seems endless.
    Your post today gave me a fresh perspective, and a reminder that God is still with me; that there are no short cuts and this suffering isn’t pointless, but part of a process that is my journey. God hasn’t forgotten me but is shaping me and I feel that I can embrace that idea and stop questioning myself and instead go back to trusting Him.
    Thank you as this new perspective in itself has given me hope <3

    • Jennifer Short says


      I prayed for you today. I have also been suffering for many years. I prayed you would have blue skies and sunshine in the midst of your suffering to encourage you and give you rest on your journey to eternal hope. Thank you for hanging in there so faithfully. It will not be in vain.

      Much love,

  30. Nancy says

    What a timely reminder… I, too, want hope to be at the beginning of the list! But God’s ways are always right, even if I don’t quite understand. The good news is that I’ve experienced this process, but, somehow I seem to have forgotten it recently. Perseverance… Character… Hope! and this kind of hope doesn’t disappear in hard times! It’s based on my relationship with God and reminds me that He is always here!

  31. Judy says

    Thank you for this post. My journey has been through stage 4 colon cancer. I have come out a survivor, with wonderful friends and supporters, a new church and a completely different outlook. I love Claire’s story, and how chances change lives. God works in wonderful ways. And the video reminded me of where my son is doing Peace Corps work in Guinea, West Africa. Hope is a blessed thing.

  32. Nazila says

    Thanks Holley for another beautiful post and encouraging us! Yes, Jesus is with us when we pass through the valleys of life! How heart warming is that! Praise Lord for his help, love and patience.

  33. says

    Your words really blessed me today, Holley. I saw the verse and grabbed my Bible to look it up, and sure enough . . . it did the exact same thing to me as it did to you . . . and then I smiled reading your words, as I never quite realized where hope is in that verse — how it’s at the end like that. God keeps telling me to “pursue hope” and more and more I see it’s not about my believing; it’s about His doing; it’s a process.

  34. Rebecca says

    In one of my bible classes we learned the definition of Hope as this, “Confident Expectation.” We can be confident in the promises we received from our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Thanks for your always uplifting and encouraging posts, Holley. Blessings and Peace to all.

  35. says

    This spoke to me today…I want hope now…until this year I was a straight A student, but this semester not only have I not been getting A’s, but I am close to actually failing a class…ouch…I feel like there is no hope anymore…makes it feel really frustrating when I try so hard and just fail again…

  36. Jennifer Short says

    I needed your message of hope today. Thanks, Holley, for your love and endurance. Your encouragement has comforted my aching heart today.

  37. ojackieh says

    Such a good thought about hope. Makes me think about Hebrews 11:1 that says “Now faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence (conviction) of things not seen .” When life gets complicated or seems out of control, that’s when faith is challenged because we cannot yet see the evidence of a good outcome. Jesus, himself, said in this world we will have trials and tribulation but to be of good cheer because He had overcome the world in John 16:33. The Romans’ verse shows a pathway to finding hope by having faith that God is in control not matter the circumstance. And because He is so trustworthy, we can believe that He can work everything together for a good in Romans 8:28. Thanks Holley for inspiration to think this through to a position of hope and faith.

    • ojackieh says

      Please note that I meant to say the following: “The Romans’ verse shows a pathway to finding hope by having faith that God is in control no matter the circumstance.”

  38. Cheryl says

    This is a timely and encouraging post that God knew I needed to hear. Thank you for sharing God’s word and helping me to understand that suffering, perseverance, and hope all go hand in hand. I’m feeling much more hopeful! :)

  39. Lynette says

    Thank you for your comforting words today. Last year was filled with much loss, from which I am still reeling. My grief comes and goes in waves. Alongside is self-doubt, anxiety and negative self-talk. I am trying to immerse myself in Scripture, because only with God can I be strong. Praying for others who find themselves in this rocking boat.

  40. Kimberly Goodloe says

    Hi Holly. How are you?

    I conitnue to press through my health obstacles , 65 months ( recovering from open heart & two pace maker surgeries) & praise God for another day.

    Thanks for sharing a powerful, inspiring message.

    Have a beautiful day

    ( link to my health blog)


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