Romans 5:3-5 – Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (NIV)
The minivan was packed to the limit for the two-thousand-kilometre trip to our new home. Tent, sleeping bags, portable fencing, duffle bags, deck box full of food and necessities, my daughter, myself, ten dogs, and two cats made up the load.
I had practiced loading and unloading the van three times to make sure everything would fit safely and practically. The dogs each had a space or kennel, depending on their size and disposition, while both cats shared a crate. Mary and I were in our places, seat belts fastened. Friends stood in the driveway waving goodbye. I started the engine. The journey began.
Everything went smoothly until the second day, when Callie, one of the said cats, decided she had had enough. She yowled and hollered, all to no avail. Next, she threw herself from side to side against the walls of the crate. Then, she began harassing her fellow inmate, but he simply scrunched at the back of the kennel with his face to the wall and ignored her. Changing tack, she settled down, and oh so quietly, began to meow and call to us in her most pleasant voice. Perhaps she could bargain her way out.
Finally, much to our hilarity, she stood on her head, clutching the wire with all four feet, and commenced to shake the metal door. Mary and I laughed ourselves silly at this desperate antic which Callie obviously hoped would bring an end to her suffering. Confinement was definitely not her thing.
Finally on the fourth day, our journey came to its end. Callie, much to her delight, discovered a much larger house and yard than she had ever seen before. Perhaps, the suffering of confinement had been worth it, after all!
Most of us do not like suffering. We tend to be creatures of habit, and when our life takes a turn from the normal, we often, like Callie, end up acting out. We may yowl and holler in frustration as we rail against the situation. When this doesn't bring the desired change, bad temper and pity parties may make their entrance, followed by a stage of plea bargaining with God to open the doors of whatever suffering has us confined within such an intolerable situation. In fact, in many ways, we may even do spiritual headstands as we seek release. We read our Bible more. We pray continually. We do every good act of mercy we can manage, yet still, the constraint of suffering is not lifted. Perhaps, it's because the journey is not yet over, a journey which God has allowed us to embark upon that we might become larger — more mature people — spiritually.
This is a truth which has often caused me to muse that perhaps the suffering has been worth it, after all.
Prayer: Father God, thank You that amidst any and all sufferings which may come our way, You are able to use them to grow and mature us in Christ. Enable us, this day, through the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to rejoice in our situation, whatever it may be, knowing that when the journey is over, truly, we may realize that is has been worth it, after all. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.