Rejoice in my suffering

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the holy spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have never said, that I ‘rejoice in my suffering.’  That does not make sense, does it?  Why would I celebrate financial struggle?  Why would I be glad for physical pain?  Why would I be happy about interpersonal conflict? It just doesn’t make sense.

I was texting with a friend this morning who was crying out in the struggle. This is hard.  I don’t think I can stand it.  When will it end? 

And since I’m such a compassionate person I said something like, “God is using all these tough things to condition you for what’s up the road.”

My friend said, “That’s not super comforting.”

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t my most compassionate moment. But, guys, haven’t we all lived it?  Maybe since I’m drawing close to fifty, I am beginning to be a little reflective.  If my parents had not divorced, I wouldn’t have known how to be compassionate to my step-son when he was little and missed his mommy. If I had never had an argument with my husband, or a time when I wondered why I married him in the first place, I wouldn’t be able to understand a friend when she says she just doesn’t know if their marriage is going to make it. If our children had never pushed back, or made horrible decisions, or been hurting inconsolably, I wouldn’t be able to offer a shoulder to cry on to another hurting mom.  If I hadn’t spent so many years soldiering on, refusing to accept God’s grace and provision, I wouldn’t understand the loneliness and heartache that that can cause.

But, guys, I have.

I have endured struggles of many kinds.  So have you.  And we are still standing. We have endured heartache, pain, death, abandonment, betrayal, loneliness, addiction, selfishness, illness, and every other kind of struggle.  And we are not finished.

The crap is going to keep flying in our direction.  But the more crap we have endured, the more easily we are able to wipe it off and keep stepping.  That’s endurance.

The more we endure, the more we realize what we are made of.  We realize that we have survived before and we will survive again.  More importantly, we realize why we have survived.  We have survived because we have been supported, provided for, and carried.  That realization? That’s character.

That character, that acknowledgement of our weakness in the face of struggle and our need for a Savior to support, provide for, and carry us, gives us hope. We have hope because we know we are not alone.  We know that the One who has allowed us to survive all the layers of crap that have flown at us will continue to provide a way for us to get through the next layer. That is His character.

And that hope, that hope in the One who consistently shows up in the midst of our struggle, whether we acknowledge his presence or not, that hope does not disappoint.

So, ok, for that reason I will rejoice in my suffering. Period.

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