“And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” vss. 3-4
Followers of Jesus are a peculiar bunch! In a world that values happiness and health, in which people will do most anything to avoid pain and distress, we have a reputation for welcoming suffering, and actually counting it as a blessing. On the surface, such an attitude seems bizarre. Accordingly, many Christians have adopted the world’s standard and count suffering as a curse. They complain when forced to endure it and openly question God’s love when it comes close. They seem to forget that Jesus endured persecution and rejection and promised his disciples that they would have the same experience. The apostle Paul went so far as to boast in his sufferings…as far as he was concerned, suffering was to be embraced and accepted. As he puts it in his letter to the Romans, “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” It’s not easy to buy what Paul says here…to embrace suffering seems masochistic and foolish, almost contrary to common sense. Yet believers who have suffered know the truth of what he writes. They know that painful times can bring them close to Jesus. They report being able to feel his presence in a deep and personal way. Of course there is no need for us to seek out suffering…it comes well enough on its own. But when it comes and we endure, ultimately we do experience hope in amazing and unexpected ways.
Thought for the Day: How has suffering been a blessing for me?