Being in full time ministry, I get the unique opportunity to meet a wide variety of people. In some situations, I get the privilege of knowing someone on a deeper, more personal level. One of those people, I consider a friend now. She almost always has a smile on her face and has this gentle spirit about her. She can be quiet and reserved, but it’s not uncommon to see her laughing out loud. Her name is Carrie. She is the mom of two incredible kiddos, Alex and Charly. Carrie and her husband Mike are very down to earth people; the kind that make you feel comfortable just by being around them.
What you wouldn’t know about Carrie by meeting her is that she has end-stage Renal Disease. She is 32 years old and she undergoes dialysis treatment every-single-day of her life. While working full time. While mommying full time. And being a wife. Carrie needs a kidney transplant. She recently experienced the heart wrenching situation where she was called for a transplant, and then found out it wouldn’t work. So, she’s back on the list.
Carrie is an example for many of us. She is not without her struggles, as I’m sure you can imagine. She cries out to God in anguish, she’s afraid, she’s confused. But she has hope.
Romans 5:3-5 states, “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.” (NIV)
Now, the idea of having glory in our sufferings is beyond what any of us naturally tend to do, but when we look at it spelled out for us this way: suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, character produces hope; it builds our faith. It helps us stand a little taller. It opens our eyes to a new perspective.
I like the way The Message paraphrase writes Romans 5:3-5: “There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”
According to this Scripture there are three things that we gain in our sufferings (if we focus on God):
1. We gain perseverance (passionate patience). I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a little more patience. Not begrudging, bored patience, but passionate patience. The kind of patience that spurs me on to do something while I’m waiting!
2. We gain character (the tempered steel of virtue). I love how this is phrased. Not only do we strengthen our character during our struggles, but it’s the tempered steel of virtue. The kind that is unwavering, even in the worst of times. It’s the kind that no amount of heat or pressure can bend.
3. We gain hope (keeping us alert for whatever God will do next). I believe that there is always something more coming from God. We wait in expectancy for what He has for us next. But we aren’t left feeling empty, but instead He pours out the Holy Spirit into our lives and we can’t even contain all that He has for us! I believe that no matter where you are in life, no matter what your current struggle is, whether you’re just having a bad day or you have a life-threatening illness, you can be encouraged in your suffering!
Jesus, as we begin to evaluate our own struggles, we ask that you will begin to develop in us the passionate patience that we need to endure and forging that character of steel that we need in You so that we may stand in Hope that you have something remarkable in store for each of us. Provide for us in a new way as we trust in you. Amen.
*Carrie Baker is Type O Blood Type and is in need of a Kidney Transplant. If you are interested in learning more about living organ donations or would like to be evaluated for possible donation, you may visit the Mayo Clinic Website at Living-donor transplantation – Mayo Clinic Transplant Center – Mayo Clinic