Thursday, December 1, 2011

We Rejoice in Our Sufferings!

Romans 5:3

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope

You never really see anybody glad about his or her suffering. You don’t see too many smiling players after a loss of a game. You don’t see too many people glad after they lost a job. You don’t see too many people jovial over the struggles in life but yet as believers we are told to rejoice in our sufferings.

On 60 Minutes the other night I saw a report about homeless families in central Florida. One particular family made a home out of an old bread truck. They washed up every morning in gas stations before going to school. They did their homework in libraries so they could use the computers to do their homework. They ate their dinner out of tin cans. When they interviewed the two children, the oldest daughter was asked, “are you sad?” She said, “No, I look at this as an adventure. ..Its just life!” And she was smiling. She was rejoicing in her suffering.

I think we’ve lost the ability to rejoice in our suffering. African-American’s mastered the art of rejoicing through suffering by recognizing that this world was not our home and that we were strangers in a foreign land on our way to somewhere better. The legacy of Slavery in America cause Africans in America to struggle with their faith in God and through that experience they met a suffering servant by the name of Jesus that liberated them through their suffering. The Black Power generation would look back on that slave generation and scorn them for their “pie in the sky” theology but it was their ability to transcend their existential pain for greater gain that got us through as a people.

Like the Apostle Paul, our ancestors knew that their present sufferings would lead to something far greater.

1. Suffering produces perseverance. When we suffer through the trials of life it creates the ability to endure hardships. I believe it was Nietzsche that said, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Frederick Douglass said, “Where there is no struggle there is no progress.” What you are going through is actually making you better.

2. Perseverance produces character. You are a better person because of what you survived. When you endure your suffering it builds your character. God will never take you where your character can’t keep you. Your Character speaks to what kind of person you are. When you endure sufferings it strengthens the integrity of your character.

3. Character produces Hope. The reason the little girl who was living in the bread truck could smile was because she saw something beyond the bread truck. By surviving and being focused on her dreams, studying in the library, spending time with her family, acting in community theatre, this girl had more focus on her future than a child who is spoiled with luxury.

Paul said in Romans 8:24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we don not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

I rejoice in my sufferings because it leads to my hope that God is working this out for my good!

Dear God,

Thank you for being with me through my suffering. This present suffering does not compare to the future Glory that you have for us. Keep my eyes on the prize so that I can hold on to the hope that I have for a better tomorrow. Use me today to help somebody who might be suffering to encourage them that weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. I rejoice that you trust me with trouble because as a result I’m stronger, wiser, so much better. Without you God, I never would have made it.

In Jesus Name,

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