“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” (Romans 5:3b-5).
Rejoice in suffering? Using the words “rejoice” and “suffering” in the same sentence seems like an oxymoron. How can anyone tell me to rejoice in my sufferings? I am sure they never knew the fear, the terror, the bondage of panic attacks.
Why do we suffer? Why do we go through struggles and disappointments in life? Why do we have to learn to “deal” with problems like agoraphobia and life-restricting fears?
I wish I had all those answers. But, I don’t. I can, however, share what the Word of God says. Our Father tells us that suffering produces perseverance–the supernatural ability to endure, the courage to stand firm and see the hand of God. Perseverance comes through being tested and challenged continuously.
When my son was two years old, I wanted to teach him to catch a ball. Since the motor skills and coordination of a two-year old are not fully developed, this proved to be a challenge. Each day, I would toss the ball up and he would throw his hands around like he was trying to catch it. His consistent dropping of the ball was occasionally interrupted by a successful catch.
“Yeah!” we all shouted. He kept trying. He persevered. In a matter of weeks, he was able to catch the ball more consistently. His perseverance resulted in the joy of success.
In the same way, we are faced with challenges every day. These challenges, as many of you can relate, are challenges that most people may not have to face. Going to the mall, driving a car, going some place by yourself or even going to bed at night can be colossal challenges for anyone battling panic disorder.
Yet, each challenge provides us with:
an opportunity to grow,
an occasion to learn, and
an option to persevere.
When we learn to persevere through our sufferings, we develop a more Godly character–a character which enables us to trust God through any circumstance. That Godly character births hope–hope that no matter what comes our way, God can be trusted.
Whenever you face a challenge, instead of asking God to remove the obstacle, ask him for the strength to persevere. Let him develop in you character and hope. You will learn to catch that ball. Soon, you will be so good at catching that you’ll be able to handle anything that is thrown your way.
Prayer: Father, thank you for my sufferings past, present and future because I know that through them I will become more like your Son. Give me the strength to persevere and the hope to rejoice no matter what my situation may be.