Suffering and Hope
"…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." - Romans 5:3b-4
Friends, we indeed have much to be thankful for, even this year! And at the same time, we have endured much suffering these past twelve months as well.
How strange it is that in the middle of Paul's letter to the church in Rome, he throws in the call to glory in our sufferings - because while I won't speak for you, that seems to be one of the hardest things to do! When I stub my toe on the dining chair, the first words out of my mouth aren't exactly glorifying. When my car breaks down or my washing machine dies, my response hasn't been hallelujah! And when I've had people malign and curse me, I've never thought "this is awesome, thanks God!"
But Paul goes on to explain that there's actually reason to glory in those sufferings - suffering produces perseverance. The strength to see something through, the backbone to push on, the stick-to-itiveness that is so important. That's what suffering produces.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, right? We know perseverance is a mark of a strong character. We're drawn to stories of people who've overcome great odds and achieved something that seemed impossible. We love the underdog story of the little-guy rising up, it's about as American as apple pie, right?
And here's where it really comes home - character, real character is what produces… hope.
Because hope his more than wishful thinking or blind optimism. Hope is a proper confidence that grows out of past experiences and previous knowledge. When we've overcome previous obstacles, when we know the goodness of God because of God's prior actions, we are not just buoyed in our person, but we have confidence, we have hope for our future.
I don't envy anyone's suffering. I certainly wouldn't want to endure another 2020. But I do take heart that in getting through this year, with all of its mess, with all of its heartache and loss, God is building in us a perseverance that leads to character, that can confirm a hope in us that will be unshakable.
This Thanksgiving, no matter how you're celebrating, take heart that your hope is real and true, because you've placed it in Jesus!
Welcoming you to Grow your HOPE in Jesus this Advent,