Romans 5: 1-11
“And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (vv. 3-4)
“I don't wanna die without any scars...” Tyler Durden, Fight Club.
I think Paul could have used the word “wisdom” instead of “hope” and it would have worked just as well. Suffering CAN produce wisdom. It can also create compassion.
It seems to me that suffering is something that find us, instead of us going out looking for it. Often, especially during Lent, it feels as if Christians extol suffering as something to be achieved, rather than something that happens to us because we live in a fallen world. I think that it’s our scars that make us who we are. Our scars help us to connect with others in their pain. It’s our failures that bring wisdom, our diseases that help us connect with our bodies, and our grief that tells us that we have loved.
Paul seems to be encouraging a persecuted Roman church, saying that their suffering is not happening in vain, that their suffering has meaning, because their hope is in the one who suffered and died for them, so they too may receive resurrection on the last day.
When you suffer, can you find meaning in it? Do you find Paul’s words encouraging? Or do you think Paul is trying to find meaning in what is a meaningless experience?