- Romans 5:1-5
- Matthew 11:28-30
Early Thoughts: What possible good comes from suffering? And what possible good comes from boasting for that matter?
Normally we discourage boasting. And in matters of faith we particularly (in theory) discourage boasting. Boasting would suggest that faith is something we do, that salvation somehow depends on us and our actions. Christian tradition is clear that salvation has nothing to do with us, but is an act of God's grace.
But here Paul is, encourage us to boast in our sufferings. What's up with that?
Paul sees the possibility of good coming through suffering. It is true that at times when we persevere through hard times it builds character, it allows us to find hope. It is true that sometimes we have to learn through struggle. And it is true that this happens the most where there is love, where God's love is being made real in our lives.
But there is a big problem looming. Does this just give us a reason to say "suck it up" to the person who is struggling? Does this idea of suffering producing endurance producing hope lead us to ignore the reality of suffering? How would we apply those verses to Nepal? or to the streets of Baltimore? or to the families of murdered/missing indigenous women?
Obviously not all suffering should be lifted up.
Or maybe we only know which suffering produces endurance produces hope in retrospect?
Or maybe the real question is how we respond to our own suffering and the suffering of our neighbours?
WE will struggle in life. Some struggles will be minor, some will be and feel catastrophic. But we have hope. We have hope because there is love. We have hope because we have the God who offers to give us support and rest. And in that hope, in that love, with that support we can endure. And maybe there we will find the hope for next time....