"Not only so, 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."
(Romans 5: 3-5)
I’m not sure that I like the “glory in sufferings” part of this text from Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, but I do like the idea that there is a progression moving us from our current difficulties to the place of hope.
At a recent training event, a speaker said that one of the gifts that we provide for children and youth is to “provide a place for them to try hard things.” In support of his statement he said that they discovered that the number of injuries at camp was far greater at the beginning of the week. Why? Because kids were not being active during the rest of the year, so they had “forgotten” how to fall down!
When we provide the opportunity for our campers to try hard things, they find that with intentionality and practice they can overcome challenges. Whether these challenges come in the form of internal struggles or in their relationships with others, campers are able to develop a greater sense of who they are and what they are capable of accomplishing.
When it becomes natural for campers to face the difficult challenges in their lives, they are able to develop a sense of what it means live out their Christian faith. These elements are sign posts to guide them in their relationship with God and with all of humanity; and because they endured, persisted, and built character along the way, they can live with hope that this moment of difficulty is not all that there is.
As the United Methodist Church faces one of its challenges this weekend, let us pray that in persisting and the building of character, we will also step through this experience with hope that God is in this and will be present beyond this moment. Let us pray that God will lead us into a future that still calls us to live with one another in love and to provide places where hard things are tried, and that the muscles of hope are built.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen"
See you around the campfire soon,