At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. ~ Job 14:7, NIV

Four years of medical school have left me with many lasting impressions. The most outstanding of these is that the practice of medicine is all about extremes and holding unto hope. Frequently throughout my education at Loma Linda University, I saw multiple examples of statistical impossibilities that reinforced this conclusion. The following two experiences are striking examples of just how extreme life can get in the world of medicine.

One night on call in my third year of medical school, I was on my obstetrics and gynecology (ob/gyn) clinical rotation and met a 30-year-old woman who was thirty weeks pregnant with quadruplets. She had been on a fertility drug because, despite multiple attempts, she was unable to get pregnant. Traditionally, the occurrence of quadruplets is one in 512,000 pregnancies – though this incidence may be higher now because of the increased use of fertility drugs and reproductive techniques. That night, I had the privilege of assisting my ob/gyn residents and attending physician with a cesarean section to deliver all four babies. While the mother did have a few compilations after birth, she and all the babies eventually went home together. The Bible readily acknowledges the excitement that comes from having a baby. John 16:21 (NIV) says that once “her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”

The following day in clinic, I went from witnessing a joyous extreme to a heartbreaking one. I met a young lady about 25 years of age, who had delivered a still-born baby a couple of weeks earlier. She had a condition called antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, which is known for causing recurrent spontaneous abortions. She cried tears of despair as she explained to me how she had gone through multiple miscarriages in the past.

I have reflected on these experiences multiple times, and I have now come to the realization that these two women, who went through extremes of childbearing, had one thing in common at some point in their individual lives: hope. For the woman who delivered quadruplets, there was a hope that was fulfilled when she finally became pregnant. For the woman with recurrent miscarriages, there was the yet unfulfilled hope to still be fulfilled of finally having a successful pregnancy.

If you are not holding unto hope when you are going through the extreme situations you face in your life, you will find your life much more difficult. Regardless of the outcomes of the extreme situations we have gone through or will go through, Jesus has a promise: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelations 21:4, NIV). Jesus went to the most extremes imaginable when He died for us because He has hope that we will follow Him to the extreme in service for Him.

Ryan Maybrook, LLUSM class of 2008, is a resident in surgery at University of Colorado in Denver.