Our Bible verse for today: “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 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “You can experience God’s love in the middle of suffering”
I have a friend who is currently battling a serious form of cancer which is very advanced. The doctors tell him that at this point there’s no chance for a cure, but they may be able to beat it back and give him more months, or perhaps a couple of years, of additional life. He has already had extensive radiation treatments. Now he’s going through a regime of chemotherapy.
How is he handling it? Like a champ! He is upbeat and positive and he pushes himself to live life as fully as he can under the circumstances. He rarely misses church or any of the church social events. He greets people with a smile and a firm handshake. Ask him how he’s doing and in a strong voice he will tell you he is blessed and doing fine. And that’s not just happy-talk either. He means it. He is grateful for another day of life; he thanks the Lord that he lives in the age of medical science when we do have therapies like radiation and chemo; and he knows that as long as he is alive, the Lord has a purpose for him. Rather than feeling sorry for himself or allowing himself to give-in to despair, he makes it a point to bless others, to show interest in them, and live life fully.
My friend is determined to handle his very serious health struggle with dignity and grace, giving glory to God and allowing God to use his example as a means of inspiring and encouraging other people. I hope if the day comes that I’m faced with a serious illness like that that, I will handle it with the courage and grace and dignity that my friend has.
The Apostle Paul was a man who knew a thing or two about dealing with struggles, and like my friend, Paul chose to see the hand of God and the love of God in the middle of those struggles. That’s what he was writing about in Romans 5:3-5. God isn’t absent in our times of struggle. In fact, His presence is often more real and more profound to us during those times than at others. But we have look for it. If we determine to bring Him honor and glory through our times of trial, we will be much more likely to experience His presence, His power, and His peace in the midst of those struggles.
Life happens to all of us. Struggles, problems, sickness, the death of a loved one, our own impending death – it happens to all of us sooner or later. And when it does, we have a choice to make about how we will view it and how we will handle it. My friend has chosen to focus on the great love of God and to see God at work in the middle of his struggles. And he has chosen to exhibit strong faith, courage, dignity, and grace as he deals with it. I hope that will be true of you (and me) as well.