Daily Readings: Exodus 37-38, Romans 5
“We boast in the hope of the glory of God. 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.”
I love Paul. He always gives such powerful truth even if it is not always what we want to hear.
It is extremely easy to desire a type of relationship with Christ that is nothing but peace and joy. I know that I frequently wish for the type of relationship with God that results in me simply walk around filled with the spirit and challenges bounce of me. I want to barely even notice hardships because I am so in tune with God!
And yet Paul says there is glory in suffering…
Darn it Paul!
There is so much truth in this. When I look back at hardships and observe the fruit that God put in my life as a result of these challenges, it is easy for me to see the exact path that Paul laid out today in Romans 5. The first phase of this journey usually entails me struggling with the challenge or hardship and typically leaning on my own strength as opposed to truly turning it over to God. Suffering always ensues. At some point I turn it over to God and he gives me the strength to persevere. Suffering produces perseverance. As I persevere with God at the helm instead of myself, character develops. And the more character I see develop in my life the more I am able to quickly find the hope that Paul spoke of.
It used to take me quite a while to be able to find the hope in challenging situations for myself and my mind barely even registered the future hope I would be able to instill in others by coming alongside someone going through the exact same situation I had previously faced. Over time however, the more God develops perseverance, character, and hope in us; the quicker we are able to make that transition to the next step.
My family was watching American Ninja Warrior last night and it is always crazy for me to see what these people are able to do. The physical training required to make those transitions for one obstacle to the next is inspiring.
Spiritual and emotional training is no different. When we see others who bounce back quickly from adversity and wonder how they are able to see God’s hand at work in that challenge; it is easy to forget the hours and hours they probably spent in the “spiritual gym” preparing for that moment. It is easy to forget there was probably a lot of suffering in that spiritual training ground, that resulted in a lot of perseverance being developed, that built a lot of character, that paved the way for that ability to hope.
When watching the end result they make it look so much easier than it actually is. I watch American Ninja Warrior and think to myself, “I bet with some training for a month or two I could do that?” The truth is, I would probably fail miserably after just a month or two. Given enough time and practice, I might be able to not completely embarrass myself.
Spiritual maturity is the same thing. Once someone has given their life over to Christ, there is nothing else they have to do to earn salvation. However, allowing the spirit to live in you and live through you, takes practice. This is not a matter of your salvation, which has already been guaranteed by the cross and which you can do nothing to earn, but a matter of ability to quickly submit to God’s will and to trust in his plan.
That takes practice! And unfortunately the only way to practice turning to God in times of suffering, is to have times of suffering!
But Paul tells us that there is glory in our suffering.
I want limitless perseverance, character, and hope in my life. Because of that, I want God to develop it however he sees fit.
Thought to ponder
When was one time in your life where you can easily trace back the path from suffering to perseverance to character to hope? Have you been willing to allow others to know your story so that they might be helped down that path when dealing with a similar suffering in their own lives?