James 1:2-4 – Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don't try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete. (NLT)
My son was banned from every hospital in our area for bribing orderlies to bring in street drugs for him as a patient. "What do we do now?" I asked our family doctor. "Try another town where they don't know him," he said. We drove many miles as our son lay screaming in anger on the back seat of our car. Fortunately, he had been diagnosed with a chronic condition that kept him from pursuing any more obvious criminal activities.
Perhaps, he'd been injured in a forceps delivery at birth? Nothing showed up as I took him to therapists and psychiatrists, time after time, only to have them refuse to see him any further. Then, one long August day, smoking while on an oxygen tank, he phoned every member of our family, berating them and accusing them of things only in his mind, then drank himself to death through the night.
The church choir where he and his brother suffered abuse bears some responsibility for his condition, but not all. His brother and sister grew up to become caring adults in helping professions. Still, I found no answers for this, my central grief. Then, a woman spoke to me of her son suffering in prison. As I took her hand, a purpose began to emerge from all that I'd been through. Sorrow for the sons that we had never stopped loving had walked us both down the very depths of pain where hope seemed gone. Addictions? Crimes? Here I am. I, too, have lost a child to darkness. King David had a son like mine. Judas Iscariot had a mother. Judgment is easy. Understanding is impossible without God.
We all have trouble. The testimony of many is that God is able to work new understandings and new beginnings out of what seem like disasters, if we remain open to God's presence and promises. Without His strength, we cannot produce any endurance, let alone enough to change our lives and deepen our trust in the God of miracles. Knowing that He can and will work with our tribulation and pain continues to grow our understanding like nothing else ever could.
Psalm 30:5b – Weeping may go on all night, but in the morning there is joy. (TLB)
Prayer: Dear Father, we know that You understand, having borne our burdens through the undeserved death of Your sinless only Son, Jesus. We ask You to teach us today what we need to know to serve You better. Open our eyes to Your truth and to the opportunities that You give us to share the burdens of others. We are grateful for the possibility of joy in all suffering and for the growth of patient endurance. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.
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