Listen to this devotional:
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)
It was the worst mud I have ever encountered. Within minutes, I was three inches taller! The soles of my boots were caked with the stuff, and trying to get it off was next to impossible; it dried like cement. How I hated lurching through that gumbo after every rain. The results of the rain, however, created much new and needed growth across the normally dry and dusty landscape.
Likewise, I must admit that I also hate walking through suffering. I hate the pain that penetrates my thoughts and squeezes the cockles of my heart with agonizing strength and regularity. I hate how suffering can turn an ordinary 24-hour period into a moment-by-moment effort, like slogging through the mud, an endeavour that seeks to sap my well-being and yes, even my faith.
Amidst suffering, I never seem to be able to envision the end, but when the finale eventually arrives, something amazing has always happened. I am bigger. I am stronger. I am taller in Christian faith, peace, love, joy, and understanding.
Somehow, these suffering experiences stick to my innermost being, my soul. And as the apostle Paul wrote, in Christ, they produce perseverance, character, and hope. And God-induced hope never, ever disappoints us. In turn, I have discovered that though I still don't ever enjoy slogging through the gumbo of suffering when it comes, in the end, the results are totally worthwhile.
Prayer: Wonderful Lord and loving God, we thank You in advance for the miracle of growth in Christ, which You are able to produce within our lives when this world rains its suffering down upon us. Bless us this day with Your power and grace to meet whatever may come our way, with Christ-like poise and dignity. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.