The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Romans 5:1-11 takes up two great themes. First, we have peace through God but will still endure suffering. Second, that our salvation is entirely of the Lord. We who were incapable of believing and were enemies of God were redeemed by Jesus.
What of the suffering? Lately I have visited with many who are suffering, some in very serious ways. We find in this world we are surrounded by frailty, weakness, illness, and death. Often trouble comes upon us due to no fault of our own. Christians refer to this as the fallen condition of the world, in which things degenerate when left to themselves. We see also that along with those who would do good, there are plenty who would do harm.
Some Christian teaching and preaching tries to suggest that the Christian is immune to evil. On one level that is true. Jesus proclaims that his people have eternal life and hope. But many of his people suffer, and suffer badly, in this life. What do we make of it?
In verses three and four, we find that the troubles we face create perseverance. We learn to endure through troubles, rather that simply give up. Perseverance, in turn, builds our character. We learn to deal with trouble in the long run. We also develop a character that is aware of how bad evil is. Hopefully we learn to spare others the kind of trouble we have faced. And that character produces hope. Our hope is that Jesus has the completely positive character, has endured all suffering that we could ever endure, and is victorious over all evil. He promises the same for us. We have hope because he has always proven true to his word.
Suffering, then, is one of the steps we normally face on the way to seeing the glory and grace of God. The Lord uses it for the good of his kingdom.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.