This year I witnessed my family go through heartbreak after heartbreak. We were devastated, tired, and hurting. Living a long distance from home didn’t make matters any easier. I dreaded answering the phone because it always seemed there was someone on the other end, struggling to break bad news to me. When I could travel home to be with my family, I was met at the door with smiles and eyes red from crying. My heart ached as I watched my beloved family suffer.
But even through this difficult time, we experienced hope. In the midst of everything my family members displayed peace, hope, and joy, and I saw Jesus shine through them despite their suffering. It may seem odd to relate this difficult time in my family to our study on love. But, despite their outward pain, my family experienced joy because of God’s love for them and their love for Him. I saw my whole family continue to praise Jesus and to remind one another that God was in control, and to hold on tight to His faithfulness.
Some people wonder how a loving God can let bad things happen. The truth is we live in a fallen world. Our world and everything in it . . . the people, the animals, the plants . . . it has all been affected by sin. On this earth, we can’t escape suffering, but in its midst we can have hope. John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Jesus is our hope, and our Savior. Through Him we are assured of eternal life and a certain future.
Jesus trusted the Father for everything, and and everywhere He went He brought the life and love of God with Him. He opened the door for others to have eternal life. He showed us how to trust in God which not even suffering and death can take away. In fact, despite what we might feel is best, God has opted not to take suffering away from the world. In Romans 5:3-4, we’re told to “rejoice in our sufferings”, not because suffering itself is good, but because when we suffer while living out of the life of Christ, something magnificent happens. In Christ, suffering has the potential to transform us.
I hope you don’t miss what Paul describes in this passage. No matter what may happen in our life, we can still praise Him because of His overwhelming love for us. Romans 5:3–4 says, “not only that, but we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Jesus has the power to use these difficult times in our life to teach, shape, and transform us. Our sufferings remind us of the hope we have been given through the love of Jesus Christ.
This week any time something bad, frustrating, hard, difficult, or heartbreaking happens pray like this, “God I praise you and rejoice. Grow me to be more like Christ . . . even through this.” I won’t pretend it’s easy, but it is good. Get in the habit of always praising and rejoicing, knowing you are loved and there is hope in Christ. You are loved. There is hope. Remember that. Write it down.