Boasting about suffering?
Romans 5: 3-5
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 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.
Expectant mothers sometimes have to endure hearing stories of labour from other women. It's usually kindly meant, but not always helpful. Before labour, you don't necessarily want to hear about how difficult or painful it may be. Nor do you want to hear from the woman who was in labour for all of half an hour and whose figure popped back into shape within minutes. You know that's not going to be you.
So what's Paul about when he tells us to "boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us” ?
The key is in the rest of the sentence "...because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."
Suffering isn't good. It isn't even 'good for us', not on its own. God never wants us to suffer. But God can make suffering worthwhile by working in and through our suffering to produce something, or someone new.
I like to think of you as gentle,
the dove descending,
the breath of life,
the warmth of healing.
Sometimes I forget you are also
the flame, the storm, the scalpel.
Sometimes it takes a strong wind to clear the debris.
Lord, grant me the strength to stand when I must stand;
the flexibility to bend, when I must bend;
the knowledge that my brokenness is no barrier to you.
May that knowledge give me confidence,
the confidence to boast in you,
in your never-ending grace,
in your death-defying love.
I give you my suffering,
as Christ gave me his.
I adopt his character,
as he adopted mine.
Together we live in hope.