"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame,
because God's love has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit
who has been given to us "
I had been praying with a friend lately about marriages. Those that seem to be doing well and those that are falling apart or have already chosen divorce. I read these verses around the same time and it made me think about the way we try to escape suffering. Maybe it's a terrible spouse who treats us badly. Maybe it's disease. Maybe it's depression that we can't shake or a bad relationship with a sibling or a church who is broken. Mostly we want to get away from suffering, and will often take the quickest path possible to escape it. And then we feel hopeless. Things will never change. I never noticed this connection that God makes though- suffering producing endurance producing character producing hope. Suffering leading to hope! But only if we choose to endure (and yes, I think that sometimes enduring is a choice if escaping is an option). This is not to say that we should not take medicine or try to make relationships better and stronger. But I do think we should have in mind to endure. Because I believe that God planned for His people to suffer. And I long for our suffering to produce the fruit of hope. I want to change my first reaction to suffering. To stop asking God immediately for it to end. But rather to ask Him to grant me endurance, build my character, and produce in me hope. Hope in the midst of suffering is a beautiful thing. Especially hope that does not put us to shame!