“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:3-5 NIV2)
Vimy Ridge, a fourteen kilometer natural barrier providing a strategic position on the Western front during World War 1, had been seized by the Germans in 1914. Any efforts to dislodge the enemy resulted in total failure. Hope of victory was quickly evaporating amongst the Allies.
When Lieutenant General Byng, Commander of the Canadian Corps, examined the dilemma in 1917, he never gave up on hope. There should be a way to dislodge the enemy, and soon a plan was devised and put into action.
Canadian soldiers began digging beneath Vimy Ridge. If victory could not be obtained in the open, it had to be obtained by other means! A network of thirteen tunnels was dug through chalk, providing the troops protection. These were eight meters deep, totaling close to ten kilometers overall, an ideal place to launch infantry attacks. Yes it did take time to dig all of this, but hope after all is based on patience.
Sappers also dug galleries leading to the German strongholds, and fourteen mines were placed under strategic locations.
On March 20 half of the Allied guns began the bombardment of the enemy. On April 2 the entire artillery bombarded the Germans. The enemy called this “the week of suffering”. By April 12 the Canadians had conquered all of Vimy Ridge. What had been impossible for three years became a reality, and all because of hope.
Hope drives people to victory, even more so when we rely solely on the One who created us.
In a land where comfort is the norm, we often forget what hope means. Sooner or later however, anyone of us will be struck with tragedy, and when that happens we will feel completely lost, in danger of becoming completely demoralized. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Suffering is an opportunity to discover what real hope means.
We, too, can conquer the “Vimy Ridges” of life, which seem unbeatable, but it will depend on whether or not we fully understand what hope in an Almighty God means, hope that “Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37 MSG)
It all depends how we view suffering.
(To access the entire “Radical Grace From the Book of Romans” devotional series, please click here.)