July 20 - Suffering Leads to Hope

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 20 – Suffering Leads to Hope

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

It’s hard for most of us to make the leap from suffering to hope.  We do everything in our power to avoid suffering.  Not only that, but we do everything in our power to help others to avoid suffering.

But, this verse tends to decry our actions.  Suffering produces endurance.  Endurance produces character and character produces hope.

Spend a few moments and think about that process.  Paul nails it, doesn’t he!

If life is easy and we have everything taken care of for us, we don’t face much suffering.  When something hits us, we don’t know how to handle it because we’ve never learned to endure tough times. 

There is a lot of commentary about the last few generations and their attitude of entitlement.  Because their parents have insisted that all their needs are immediately met and have never allowed them to face any type of suffering, there is no independent sense of endurance built into them.  Life was too easy – they expect life to continue to be easy and when it isn’t, they tend to throw tantrums.  Not great in the character department either.  And they end up with a sense of hopelessness.  They never learned to endure until the good stuff comes.

This verse is incredible to me because the insight into the human condition is so plain.

We must face suffering to get too having hope-filled lives.

I read amazing stories about early Christians who lived through horrendous persecution for their faith.  Each of them died with great hope.  That hope spread like wildfire throughout the world and Christianity was born.  Without that great suffering and the hope that it created among people, Christianity would probably have stayed a small sect in the region surrounding Palestine.

If you read stories about world-changers, you will find that there was a point in their lives (or several points) where they had to face uncommon suffering.  Because they faced it, endured it and became strong because of it; they are able to offer hope to many.

Suffering leads to hope.  Wow.  Hard to imagine, but it really is true.