"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5
"Prosperity preaching" has bogged down my brain lately. I don't know why, exactly. Maybe because so many I love suffer right now? Probably. I reject the current practice of "prosperity" teaching. Being a Christian doesn't mean that life suddenly gets easy and if we believe enough our days become laced with bulging money bags and easy entry to all we desire. Rather, part of being a Christian means we can better frame our days by keeping our eyes on God.
Paul wrote the above in a letter to the Roman believers. First century Christians were savagely persecuted for their faith. Most of us Americans have no clue what it means to be persecuted for our faith. We can't truly appreciate what suffering for our faith means as Paul wrote it, unless we've spent enough time in a country where freedom of religion doesn't exist.
So how do we - how do I - apply the above Scripture to my life? To me, it means I don't always get what I want. I don't always get what I think I need. Sometimes things are hard to allow me to get closer to God, to burrow deeper in his Word, to learn to trust him even when I have no tangible, material reason to trust. How can I have faith or grow in faith if things are always easy?
We do suffer. When we suffer, we grow. The growth period may take days or years. God has his own time table. I am reminded of something my doula said to me. She said, "God exercises the muscles that need strengthening." I like that. We suffer when we're being exercised and that exercise takes us through a progression from suffering to perseverance to character to hope.
Anyway, that's just what's on my mind today.