This week’s article is written by the Rev. Jim Wheeler, a member of Godfrey First United Methodist Church, 1100 Airport Road.
Adam was promised a partner in the Garden of Eden. Wandering and childless, Abraham and Sara were promised land and descendants to fill it. David was promised victory and a perpetual throne. Zachariah and Elizabeth were promised a son named John. Mary and Joseph brought into the world God’s son, Jesus, who was foretold by ages of prophets. And Jesus promises a kingdom without end, eternal in the heavens, where love and peace will abide forever to all who believe and live in that promise.
For all of God’s promises to those called or owned as his people, there is no promise for the absence of suffering among them in this life. In fact, there seems to be some benefit to suffering. Witness Romans 5:1-5. In these verses, Paul makes the case that we boast in our sufferings, as he did and Jesus did.
Why? Because suffering demands change, like scratching an itch. Suffering motivates compassion, response, resolution and relationships. No one invites suffering unless there is a greater good achieved. The Apostle gloried in suffering as a sharing in the suffering of Christ to save others. As he writes, suffering produces endurance, character, hope and sharing the promise of God’s love poured into our hearts.