Monday, August 15, 2016

Glory in Suffering

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
In this post (The World is Changing), I talked about how Jesus has changed, and is changing, the world.  In the same Sunday school lesson, as she talked about the beginning of Romans 5, Terry talked about how Christ's actions have even changed the meanings of words.

For instance: "We boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings"

What does is mean to glory in our sufferings? At first glance, it sounds like something we would never do? Glory in our sufferings? But consider people's views at that time. Suffering was a sign of disfavor. If something bad happened to you, it was a sign that God was angry or disappointed. It was punishment.

Here (and in other places in the Gospel and the Epistles) we see a different story. There is no promise that Christians will not meet sufferings; in fact, there are words that predict that they will. Instead, there is a promise that God will be with us. 

Not only that, but if suffering is not a punishment, then we are not called to shame for it. We can glory in it because God is in it (not causing it) with us.

What does this mean for us? There are those, even now, who would preach a Gospel that promises prosperity for those who believe. What does this say to those who suffer? That they do not have faith? That they should be ashamed of their suffering?

Paul and Christ call us to something different. We are called to find Christ in the midst of suffering - in the midst of our own suffering and the suffering of others. We are not called to shame, but to find glory.

What difference would that make? First, those of us who find shame in our suffering would be able to let that go. Secondly, if we search for God in the midst of suffering, we will find God, and we will realize that we are not alone. There is glory.

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