Suffering

"Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  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." (Romans 5:1-5)

When I was preparing my sermon on Thursday I stumbled across the sermon I preached three years ago.  It was the very first sermon I preached at Salem Lutheran Church on June 6, 2004.  The text that Sunday was also Romans 5:1-5.  This means that I have finally reached the point in my ministry here where I get to repeat the lectionary cycle.  So I decided to read that first sermon partly because I wanted to see how I interpreted the text back then but mostly to see how (if any) I had grown over the last three years.

I then got to thinking about how I, the community, the church and the world has changed over the last three years.  I got to thinking about the sufferings we have experienced.  I then got to thinking that even though we have gone through sufferings, we are still here and we are stronger for them. 

"Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God."  It is because of this peace that we can endure and overcome suffering.  It is because of the promise from God, that when we go through the fire we will not be burned (Isaiah 43), that we can face suffering with hope.

…but when I go through suffering, I don’t always think about this hope…

I know there will be times when I will complain about any suffering I may experience.  I will whine and be miserable.  But in those times I pray that God may slap me in the face with the reminder that I am not alone and therefore make me stronger.  I thank God for this "refining process".  I thank God for strengthening me through the years.  And I thank God for the opportunity to share in his glory.

"Oh God, slap me in the face with your love and grace when I whine in suffering.  Remind me that you are there to strengthen and guide me through the fire.  Through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord I pray, Amen!"

One more thing…
My wife and I have a wedding today and a graduation tomorrow (Sunday).  After that we head on vacation for a few days to visit friends, so I may not be able to update this site until Thursday.  Take care and may God bless your comings and going.

-edh-

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