When I was in college my group of friends often quoted one of our “very funny” lines: “I know suffering builds character, but I’m already a character, I don’t need any more suffering.” We were talking about exams. (Insert eyeroll.)
The outward privilege of my youth is somewhat embarrassing at the same time that my inward struggle with anxiety, suicidal thinking, and figuring out my sexuality remains a defining moment in my faith story. It was so hard to keep on moving forward, but God was there, never turning back. With work, I learned endurance.
Paul insists that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us” (Romans 5:3b-5a). I want to believe this, I preach this confidently, and I often cannot accept this. The fact is, sometimes suffering produces death, often suffering is so overwhelming that lives are destroyed. It is not-that-unusual for hope to disappoint us. Hope that says “it will all work out” is a very shallow hope, a dishonest hope, a disappointment.
See the rest of this June 6 Devotional here.
For my organized thoughts, see my book Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers: Developing Relational Food Ministries. In this spot are thoughts that appear for a moment--about food programs, mission, church, building community, writing, and whatever else pops into my head.