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From Suffering to Hope

Daily Reading: Romans 5

Scripture Focus: We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5.3-4)

Devotional Thought: Why do good people suffer? I get that question all the time. And, I still feel so inadequate when trying to answer it. As I spoke with my friend Gerry a few days ago, we struggled with that very issue. I expressed my thought that when we suffer 'unjustly' it is an opportunity for us to be like Jesus, who himself suffered through no fault of his own.

Paul wrote about Christian suffering in Romans 5. Let's look at the progression...

• Suffering. Paul almost seemed to take it for granted we would suffer, and for good reason. Suffering is part and parcel of living, isn't it? We should not be surprised, for Jesus came for that very purpose - to suffer. But suffering is not the end, for suffering produces...

• Endurance. The Scripture commends Jesus for enduring the cross and entering before the throne of God. When we endure, we are like Jesus. And not only so, we also will be able to enter into the joy of the Lord!

• Character. It's strange to think about Jesus' character being developed. How can a perfect character be developed? Because he became a perfect sacrifice. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus' character was developed when he prayed "Not my will, but yours." As we go through the fiery trials, endurance perfects our character, just as it did for Jesus. We become "fit for the Master's use."

• Hope. Jesus had hope in the Father. His hope was so certain, that in the midst of his suffering, he entrusted himself to God. As our characters grow, our hope grows. We have "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

Prayer: Lord, we do not pray for suffering, but we do pray that in our sufferings we would be like Jesus. Help us to embrace our sufferings as you did and so to endure, to grow our souls and to inherit our hope. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 18.35-45

35 You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. 36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip. 37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed. 38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet. 39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. 40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed. 41 They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them. 42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets.

43 You delivered me from strife with the people; you made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. 44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me. 45 Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses.

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