"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 5:3-5
By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for us. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. We are drawn by the Holy Spirit into faith in Jesus and the hope He brings. We are held by the Spirit in our hope so that we will not be ashamed of either our sufferings or our hope in His promises. This is a hope of eternal life and a knowledge that we have a Savior that has suffered also. This truth gives us strength to bear our daily cross.
It is in our grief and suffering that we turn to God. In Him we find the peace that comes from complete forgiveness and the comfort that comes from his eternal love for us. Suffering and loss comes to us because that is part of being human. It is in those emotions that God does a mighty work in us. He builds empathy in us so we can comfort those around us who are in the valley and experiencing the dark night of the soul. Have you ever suffered a loss? Be it a family member, pet or close friendship? Have you ever met someone who has suffered a loss and not been changed by it?
God works mightily in that place where tears and despair meet God’s love and peace. So my dear brothers and sisters, grieve over your sins, grieve over the loss of a loved one, or a pet, or a close friendship. Each has its own kind of transformative, exquisite, sharp, piercing pain and sadness, and hope and blessings are found within them.
“For there is a right time and procedure to every purpose, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him.” Ecclesiastes 8:6
This should give us comfort. Everything that happens goes through God’s hand first.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, there is a season for everything. Nothing lasts forever here on earth, there will continue to be sin accompanied by its bitter fruit, suffering and death. The fall of Adam and Eve made sure of that.
“To the woman he said, "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:16-19
But you will not grieve in darkness and despair alone, Jesus will meet you there. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4. He counts every tear, every frustration and gives us love and hope. Your grief and sadness is not for nothing, it will change you profoundly.
“But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” 1 Corinthians 15:35-36.
Jesus is with us in the journey. “For a little while you may have had to suffer grief and all kinds of trials” 1 Peter 1:6. He will restore us enough to get through this life and when He gives us our cross He will also give us strength and hope that we will be fully restored at the resurrection. “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven.” Matthew 5:12.
May God bless you richly this month as you study His holy and precious Word.
For further study this month, read and meditate on these verses in this order:
1 Peter 1:3-9
1 Peter 4:12-16
Psalm 118: 14,17-21
*Based on the book “Let us Dream” by Pope Francis. (Simon and Schuster,2020) pgs. 142-143.