These Three Remain – Hope in the Middle

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13a

Although we’ve had only a bare touch of snow, winter is fully upon us, and though it’s not the middle of winter – it feels like it is. It is a time when it is easy for me to lose hope, to give in to sadness and feel overwhelmed. I’m not good at living, coping or recreating in the cold and feel that cold is created for muffins and tea.

At the beginning of the cold we have the Advent season, a season of hope. And then that season ends and we move into a cold, grey January. We are in the middle. Not at the beginning where excitement resides, and not at the end where relief is evident. Right in the middle.

In the verse I quoted above I’ve often wondered why ‘hope’ is in the middle. There’s faith on the one side – faith in all it’s strength, setting a foundation. There’s love at the end – love as a benediction, a blessing, put at the end and recognized as the greatest of the three. Then there’s hope. And hope is in the middle. It is neither foundation nor benediction.

It’s place in the verse is symbolic of hope’s greatest gift, for hope is most needed in the middle. I need hope most when I am in the middle of a crisis. At the beginning my adrenaline kicks in and I run on autopilot doing what I need to do to survive.  Towards the end of a crisis, I know I have gone through the worst and I have survived. But in the middle? In the tunnel that is the middle I am at the end of myself. There seems to be no future and no help. This is where I need hope.

Hope in the middle of chemotherapy for cancer.

Hope in the middle of the nightmare of losing a child.

Hope in the middle of a messy divorce.

Hope in the middle of addiction recovery.

Hope in the middle of the night when echoes of loss or sadness elude sleep.

Hope in the middle of a move, the middle of the journey, the middle of life, the middle of chaos. Hope.

Hope in the middle demands that I rely on One greater than me. Hope in the middle demands faith and longs to know that God is love, it needs both faith and love to survive. As long as there is life, hope will be in the middle.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? ~ Romans 8:24

23 thoughts on “These Three Remain – Hope in the Middle

  1. I’d never thought about this passage in that way… now the ordering of the three seems so deliberate and accurate to how life works.

    On another note, this should be required reading for all middle children… a parent has faith in the oldest (’cause they’re so type-A and put-together!), and love for the youngest (’cause they’re so frustrating!), and HOPE IN THE MIDDLE (’cause they show so much promise!)

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    1. Love this! And absolutely true. Erma Bombeck did this great essay based on letters that a woman who died had written to her three sons: oldest, youngest and of course the middle. It went sort of like your comment. And you show far more than promise!

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  2. Wonderful, stimulating, intuitive post! How it resonates with my faith and my heart. I will never think about 1 Corinthians, 13:13 in the same way again . . .

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  3. You have no idea how timely this was for me. My husband and I separated last night. This was the first thing I read today. Thank you for offering me the gift of hope.

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    1. Hi Amy – I just realized how connected it feels to the theme of your blog! I just got a comment from my son who says he thinks every middle child should read it!! He is, of course, the middle.

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