I had an interesting question in a comment the other day, and it’s sparked a lot of thought.
I do take comfort in that knowing he said this would happen, and that trials produce perseverance and perseverance character and character hope which does not disappoint! Although the end of that verse confuses me! Ha how does character produce hope?
The verse referenced is Romans 5:3-5
Not only so, but 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.
Last year, I studied Revelation in my Bible study. At first I really struggled with it–and not just because it’s such a difficult book to read through. I struggled with the idea of the world’s end, and especially with the idea that we were supposed to be looking forward to it and even praying for it (“your kingdom come,” in the Lord’s prayer, is just one example). Frankly, it was hard for me to say truthfully that I wanted Christ to return and for the world to end. There are things I want to do. Like have babies, for example.
But suffering makes you think about these things differently. When we were first diagnosed with IF, I felt oddly in tune with the suffering in the world. It was like my personal tragedy somehow highlighted tragedy around me. It was probably because I was so emotional at that time. Uncharacteristically emotional–though I don’t know that “uncharacteristic” is still an accurate description nine months later.
And when I watched the news coverage Monday of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, it was all I could do to hold back tears. Maybe that’s a normal response, but I know it wasn’t a normal response for me 10 years ago. When 9/11 happened I was glued to the TV in fascination, but I don’t remember any real sense of empathy for the people whose lives were lost or who lost loved ones. That sounds terrible as I reread it, but it’s true.
Suffering–through the longing for a family, the challenges that infertility has wrought on us, and, yes, the growth we’ve experienced through IF–has led me to be more aware of the fact that we live in a fallen world. A world of pain. A world where people are hurting every day and all.the.time. This is not my home. And I don’t want this to be my home.
I don’t have an official answer to the question posed, but I have a response. Suffering produces hope. Through suffering, we persevere; perseverance builds our character (I think, primarily, our trust and faith in God, our recognition of our own powerlessness and incompleteness alone, etc.), and we end up with hope. To hope in a place where there will be no more crying. To hope in the perfection promised. To hope in Christ, in his offer of salvation, in the redemption, and in the completion of that story when he will come again.
And now, when I say the Lord’s prayer each night, I mean it. Especially “Your kingdom come.”