"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, 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." - Romans 5:1-5
Listen, people: I reallyreallyreally want to have my life together.
I do not like suffering, not for any reason whatsoever - not because of my own sinfulness, not because of the sins of others against me, not because of the sin that infects the fallen world in which we live.
I do not like being broken.
I do not like being a mess.
I know - honestly, I do - that God redeems my brokenness, that He somehow sanctifies my mess and uses it for his glory. I know He does.
I do not want you to see my brokenness. I'd rather get past the mess and have God tidy everything up with a Holy Ghost house cleaning before I invite you into my life.
I want to be able to say to you, "My life was a mess, but through suffering, God taught me endurance. He produced character within me and gave me hope. Because God helped me get my life together, because He cleaned up all the mess, I now know that God loves me. And I'm here to tell you - God loves you, too."
Concerning my suffering, my brokenness, my trials, my mess, I want to speak to you in the past tense: I want to tell you what God HAS DONE, not what God IS DOING.
I want to postpone rejoicing until after my suffering has passed. But this passage in Romans says "we rejoice IN our sufferings" - NOT - "we rejoice AFTER our sufferings are over."
The above passage in Romans was part of my daily Bible reading this morning. These verses remind me anew that God gets glory for himself not through my strength or my success, not through my competence or adequacy, but through my weakness.
My insistence on looking like I have everything together before I invite you into my life is contrary to the way God works. It is living out a philosophy of salvation by works and not by faith. It is living by law, not standing in grace. My great desire to appear competent is idolatry.
I am reminded to "rejoice in hope of the glory of God," the glory of God revealed through me, to myself and to others, through my suffering.
Jesus gives peace, faith, grace, joy, endurance, character, hope, assurance, and a deep and abiding knowledge of God's love for me - not in spite of suffering - but in the midst of suffering.
If I want to experience for myself and to communicate to others the power of the gospel, I can't wait until I am on the other side of suffering. I can't wait until I have my act together. I'm going to have to invite you into my mess, right smack dab into the middle of it, right now.
Jesus, give me more grace!
2 months ago