…but we 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… (Romans 5:3-5)
When have you learned the most about yourself and others? When has your faith grown deeper? When did your courage grow more steadfast, your empathy more tender, your thinking wiser, and your patience more enduring? What are the times and circumstances that have most shaped who you are, what you are committed to, what you value?
Is the answer to any of these questions when things were going your way and were easy? Probably not.
The answer to these questions for me is when I struggled, when I messed up and had to make amends, when I had to grow up, banish any entitlement, and dig deep. To borrow from Paul’s words today, I have learned and grown the most when I have gone through suffering.
Our world has been suffering with this coronavirus in more ways than we can calculate or comprehend. Lives lost. Businesses shuttered. Jobs gone. Savings emptied. So many dreams, plans, and hopes put on hold, if not diminished or destroyed.
The question we must ask ourselves is this: How are we going to respond to all this suffering?
If we deny it, resent it, dismiss it, whine about it, blame others for it, or give up in the midst of it, we will only perpetuate and accentuate it.
But there are other choices, and Paul proclaims a more productive and healthy way when he says that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
As we face this epidemic, let’s not hope to simply return to our former way of life and to our former selves. Thoughts of going back to former times are a fantasy, and it would be a waste of this critical opportunity to grow and change.
Instead, our hope needs to use this time of suffering to build more endurance and patience, better and deeper characters, and stronger and more resilient hope. I believe that through God’s help and grace, matched and joined with our will and desire, we can emerge from this terrible time stronger, better, clearer, wiser, and kinder than we were before.
- How do you believe God wishes you to handle and to go through this time
- What might God hope for you to learn during this epidemic?
- How might God be using this season to change you