Naturally speaking, this has not been a week I’d like to prolong. In fact, I’m ready for this week to come to a speedy end. However, I came across a scripture passage this morning which, in conjunction with a sermon I heard recently where the pastor pointed out how God uses pain for a specific purpose in our lives, gave me pause to stop and consider the week in the light of this thought and the verses I’d read. Check it out with me:
“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 5:3-5
As I reflect on this passage, what stands out to me is the renewed realization concerning how God uses pain to accomplish His purposes in my life. Now, I’d love for Him to use another method of teaching me the lessons He knows I need to learn. However, that’s not how He often works. Instead He lovingly places obstacles and lessons in my path which He knows I need to learn. The refrain then becomes, Can I learn to see the pain and discomfort of the day-to-day situations as something God is using because He wants something better for me? Seen through that lens, I find my perspective drastically shifting away from a “poor me” or “victim” mentality to one of curiosity and, as the passage denotes, hope.
Hope has to be one of my favorite biblical concepts. It bespeaks looking forward with a sense of expectancy and longing for something better ahead. This is why I’m a visionary and consistently looking to the future with a sense of hope. Yet I can’t experience the same depth of hope if I haven’t gone through the experiences God has ordained for me today and during the past weeks and months. Those experiences provide a context for the realization of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the pain and discomfort. Because even though I may feel alone in the throes of the suffering, I am never alone! So to help me remember this principle, I developed an equation from this verse. It goes like this: Suffering + Endurance + Character = Hope. So could you pick out where you currently are in the equation in this journey towards hope?
As this principle relates to the Sabbath, we all need things which not only bring us hope, but which we are actively hoping in. For me, the Sabbath is one of those sources of hope. No matter how my week has been, I always have the Sabbath at the end like a “light at the end of the tunnel” to look forward to. The Sabbath also provides a context from which I can evaluate and appreciate what God has brought me through in the past week. So, as I close, I’d encourage you to be thinking and reflecting on not only where you’ve placed your hope but also where you are in the equation of suffering. May we each be encouraged to recognize, from how our week has gone, that God is molding each one into the likeness of Jesus