3 . . . we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
My back is a mess. And it hurts.
While I was in the Navy over 30 years ago, I fell several times and injured by back. What can I say? I am a klutz.
After the initial incidents, I seemed to recover and function well. But I developed scoliosis. Chiropractic care has helped to postpone the inevitable progression of the bending and twisting of my spine.
Over the years my pain has increased and recently I’ve been having trouble with my arms and legs. X-rays show that now I have osteoarthritis, degenerative discs, and spinal stenosis in my neck and lower back. How bad? I don’t know yet. I am scheduled for MRIs in both areas on July 12. Depending on the results, my doc may refer me to a neurosurgeon.
The pain isn’t fun, but I mostly fear the unknown, the uncertainty of the future, worrying about all the things that might (or might not) happen. Last week after I heard the news, I went through an emotional roller coaster. I am trying to adjust my thinking, from worrying to planning for contingencies. It took me a while to process my feelings and trust in God to get me through whatever happens. I still struggle with this fear, but I also know I can abide in Him. “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.
Jesus knows what we are going through in life’s trials, physical and otherwise. I think about His agony in the garden the night he was arrested. He knew he was going to suffer and die. He sweat blood. He even had angels come to strengthen Him.
I thank all the friends last week who laid hands on me and even anointed me! Their prayers were a huge comfort and helped me to focus on Jesus, who understands suffering. I know I need to move forward, trusting in Him and His strength. And I expect God to teach me some lessons through this experience.
What about you? What are your trials and sufferings? Do you understand that Jesus cares and knows what you are going through?
Can your experience be used for good? Look at the progression in Romans 5.
Suffering -> Perseverance -> Character -> Hope
Suffering produces perseverance. We don’t have much choice about going through these trials. But we can choose how we will respond. Have you trusted in Jesus to help you get through this time? Are you trying to make your way alone or do you have friends with whom you can share your concerns and who will pray with you?
Have you ever thought about perseverance producing character? As we trust in God, we find him faithful, even if we don’t understand the reasons for our trials. And that builds character in us, as we learn to stand firm in him, no matter what.
And that brings hope! Because we know God is faithful and will fulfill his promises to us. Even if not necessarily with the timing we would like.