"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."
Robert Browning Hamilton wrote:
“I walked a mile with pleasure; she chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser for all she had to say.
I walked a mile with sorrow, and ne’er a word said she;
But, Oh! The things I learned from her, when sorrow walked with me.”
Many of us strive for lives of peace and contentment.
We actually live in the most peaceful time in all of history (even when it doesn’t always seem like it).
We live in amazingly prosperous times as well (even when it doesn’t always seem or feel like it).
In most cases we go out of our way to avoid any kid of suffering as if suffering is the enemy of life.
The author of Romans is reminding us that it is in our suffering that we find our truest ability to persevere. It is in our suffering that we find our mettle tested and found truly to be enough.
It is in our ability to find ways to persevere that we are able to find who we are made of-to find our true character.
It is then, our scripture reminds us, through the building of our character where we find our hope.
Jesus told us if they taunt you, blame you, hurt you, persecute you-know they did all that and more to me first.
Suffering isn’t the enemy of hope.
Our perspective is the real enemy of hope. Job said in chapter 19 verse 10 “He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone; my hope He has uprooted like a tree”
If our hope is uprooted like a tree then it wasn’t ever truly hope. Remember the author of Romans tells us that Hope is the hard fought and hard-won byproduct of suffering, perseverance, and of course character building. We don’t come to hope accidentally but through purpose and God’s prevenient Grace.
That isn’t to say you won’t experience pain, loss, or even devastation but it does mean that until we are expected to give 100%, we don’t ever know what we can truly accomplish. Until we break our ceiling, we never know exactly how high that ceiling actually is.
I know many of you are in the midst of terrible storms. Many of you find your health, finances, relationships, and even your faith being tested. Lean into God during those challenging times. Cry out to God but please also open up your heart to listen to God calling back out to you.
Feel God isn’t speaking to you? Are you praying? Reading scriptures and devotionals? Have you fasted not just from food but from things and activities that take your time away from God? It’s hard to be in relationship with God and never give God any of our time. While God always loves us and never stops pursuing us…we can shut ourselves off from being open to receiving God’s grace during these times of struggle and suffering. What can we do? To begin I believe we can pray more, fast more, meditate more, spend more time in scriptures and in holy community with each other.
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward
Summer Bible Studies:
Sunday - 4:00 PM
Monday - 1:00 PM
La Junta United Methodist Church
601 San Juan Ave
La Junta, CO 81050
Phone: (719) 384-7717
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