I blogged about this scripture earlier this year but God gave me some more thoughts on His word:
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
Paul says we can rejoice in our suffering because we know it produces perseverance. Perseverance is from a Greek word meaning, “cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy — enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).” It means to keep on keeping on. Suffering comes as an obstacle in life and we say, “This will not stop me.” “I will trust God.” “I will keep going.” “I know God will get me through this.” As we persevere, this develops character. Character shown in a person waiting patiently for God to work. Character shown by someone who honors God and does the right thing even though they are suffering in a trial. Character shown in a person who trusts God even when He doesn’t seem to be answering their prayers. The longer we persevere in trusting and following God in spite of the obstacles, the stronger our character grows. As we see our character growing, this gives us hope. It gives us hope that God does bring good out of all things. Hope that He is making us more like Jesus.
I admit I am not facing any great suffering in my life right now and to be honest when I look at what a lot of people go through every day, I am not sure I have ever truly suffered. But, I do face the “little sufferings” that are common to man. I developed a cough about 3 weeks ago that started getting worse. Because my son had been dealing with a bad cough for about 6 or 7 weeks and we seemed to have the same symptoms, I decided to research it. I believe I caught Whooping Cough from him. I didn’t get the test because it takes ten days and I would have been put on the same antibiotic anyway but that is what I believe. It has been very intense at times. As I read about this sickness, I learned that it could last up to 3 months. (In China, it is called the 100-day cough) So, I started to feel sorry for myself. “Poor me. I can’t do all the things I want to do. And I have all these things in the coming weeks that I want to do. Surely I won’t have to miss them?” In the middle of this pity party, I wrote the following:
I really get tired of feeling sorry for myself. So what, I am sick. So, I don’t get to do all that I want to do. What does God want? That is the question. What is He saying to me in all this? I fight laziness, self-pity, taking the easy way, complaining. I want to learn to live in praise, thankfulness, sacrificing, giving, living for Him above all. I want to trust that whatever God allows in each day is for His ultimate purpose and plan. I want to yield not resist. I want to embrace the moment. I want to let go of what I can’t control. I want to hold all that is in my life with open hands lifted up. Not clinging, not clutching, not desperately trying to control what doesn’t really belong to me anyway. I want to step out and trust and obey Him without weighing the pros and cons and trying to decide if I can handle the cost. I want to go all-in. put everything I have, everything I am, and everything I can be in His hands and let go. Instead of physical comfort, I want to seek living bread, instead of the illusion of control, I want to seek the freedom of free-falling into His loving arms, instead of holding on tight to what I think are my treasures, I want to let go and allow Him to give me riches I can’t imagine. When my last day comes, I don’t want to regret that I didn’t trust Him more. I don’t want to regret that I did not obey when I heard His voice. I want to hear Him say, “Well, done.” I know my soul is His forever. I praise Him for that. But I want to know that I spent more of my life laying up treasures and rewards in heaven than I did seeking temporary rewards down here.
Father, please help me day by day make the choices that will allow me to say I finished the work you gave me to do. May my life be pleasing to You.
You know, I probably would not have written this if I had been going about my business. I might not have stopped to examine my heart this way. I can rejoice that I am sick because God is using it to point me to Him. I am still struggling with the sickness and I don’t know how long it will last. This is still so minor compared to what so many people face each day. The test comes in everyday living. I truly want to follow God each day when I face the “little” things and when deep suffering comes to me as it does to all. Whatever happens I pray that I will persevere and keep my eyes on Him.
Father, thank you that you have allowed me to experience this illness because it reminds me of what is truly important. It reminds me that this world is not my home. It reminds me that I am not in control. It also causes me to be thankful for all the ways you bless me each day. Thank you for your grace, thank you for always being with me and thank you that you do give healing. Lord, please let your will be done in me and through me. May your purpose be fulfilled in my life.