When we experience the peace that comes in knowing God delights in us, we have a place to stand for facing all life’s adversities. We can find strength in knowing God’s love for us. Paul describes our strength in an interesting sequence, a kind of upward spiral: suffering, endurance, character, and hope. With the peace and strength of God’s love, our problems become pathways rather than pitfalls.
When Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl was a prisoner of war, he observed his own suffering and the suffering of those around him. In his book published in English as Man’s Search for Meaning, he recorded that those who fared best in the midst of suffering were those who did not lose hope—an observation very close to what Paul says in today’s reading.
The most mature people of faith I know have grown in ways that include “going against the odds.” They do not wear their suffering on their sleeve, but they carry it in their heart. Because they know God delights in them, they continue to have hope in the midst of problems and pains.
Paul says this hope is not theoretical; it is concrete in real-life situations. It is not superficial or fleeting; it is deep and abiding because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”
Meditation: How have you experienced the strength of hope through periods of suffering?
In our society we often privilege intellect and expertise. However, in Proverbs we read that God values wisdom. Wisdom has been present since the beginning, and some early theologians understand this Wisdom to be none other than the Son of God. Part of wisdom is understanding our place in the universe. The psalmist marvels at the vast display of God’s power in the heavens yet also recognizes that humans are a manifestation of God’s glory. The New Testament readings invoke the Trinity as we approach Trinity Sunday. Paul says that we have peace with God through Christ, and we are given the Holy Spirit. In John, Jesus Christ has received everything from the Father, and the Spirit will guide his followers into all truth.
Read Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31. When have you heard God calling out to you?
Read Psalm 8. The author reminds us that our shortcomings are not because we are only human, but because we fall short of our humanity. How do you strive to be more human—a little lower than God?
Read Romans 5:1-5. How do you allow God’s peace to calm you when you feel your life swirling around you?
Read John 16:12-15. To which person of the Trinity do you feel “closest”? How can you develop your relationship with the other two persons?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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