Suffering + The Friendship of God = Faith
“… we boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Romans 5:3). I am not going to repeat Paul’s two-sided reality of faith and Christian understanding to the young couple who just received the news that their first child suffers from a rare genetic disease that will delay her development all her life, or the young couple whose infant son continues to struggle to keep his earthly life intact following brain surgery … nor will I repeat Paul’s seemingly flippant assurance of the benefits of suffering to the parents and young wife of a recent West Point graduate (this month) an Army Ranger, deployed to Afghanistan only 3 days ago, now dead … another victim of a roadside bomb that annihilated a “bomb proof” vehicle and all who were in it on patrol … I would not offer empty sounding promises of future glory to the more than 30,000 persons here in Colorado who wait to hear if their home and belongings have been reduced to ash in the wildfires; the news of these sufferings delivered to me within the past 12 hours. No. I will not tell them that their “suffering will lead to endurance, character, and hope.” Their suffering is too raw, to real, unfair, uncalled for … unacceptable. How exactly does one empathize with that kind of suffering … “I’m so sorry, I’ll pray for you,” seems hardly enough. Jesus Christ assures us that we are accepted by him, and in his promise we live and learn and become more like him. We bear the status of “Christ in the world,” yet we fail. We enjoy the peace and grace in “God is near us,” yet we face suffering; sometimes unbearable suffering. If we remember these two-sided realities of the Christian life we will cross over to the other side; we will know hope in the face of suffering. There is a sure and certain power available to us in Christ Jesus … he lives in us through the Holy Spirit. We can endure … yes, we will.
Tags: Romans 5:1-11