Sunday, March 11, 2012
Today's guest devotion is by Trish Perry, from: Delight Yourself in the Lord…Even on Bad Hair Days © 2011 Summerside Press
Love, Hope, and Faith
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Do you remember the first time your heart was broken? I had to dig through the old memory to remember getting dumped the first time, but I found the little gem hiding in a far-off corner. I can’t drudge up the pain I felt back then, but I remember feeling it. Devastating. The truly odd thing is that the pain of that first heartbreak seemed more searing than the pain of having a marriage pulled out from under me after nearly two decades. Was I really that cold about my marriage?
Quite the opposite. I didn’t rejoice the end of my marriage. But after a life’s worth of romance and breakup, my devastation has been replaced by hope. Not necessarily hope for more romance, mind you. Simply hope. Because after suffering through multiple heartbreaks, I discovered I could survive them, I could persevere. And learning to persevere built my character. Part of my character today is the result of experiencing heartbreak and surviving it. And surviving loss. And surviving failure. And surviving…[fill in the blank]. God designed us to develop multi-faceted characters. Knowing He cares enough to improve my character gives me hope.
So it is with all suffering. Regardless of how Paul phrased it, he surely wasn’t saying “real” Christians dance for joy when they learn they have serious illnesses or they lose loved ones or they get laid off or any number of awful turns our lives could take. But the longer we live, the greater the opportunity to develop hindsight and wisdom. And hope.
So often we hear people say things like, “I would never have asked for this to happen to me, but I wouldn’t change a thing, because it made me who I am today.” That might sound trite, but the insinuation is that the person appreciates who she is today. For a Christian, that means she sees God’s hand in her life. She has hope for a God-ordained future.
That kind of hope won’t disappoint us. It eventually rises to the surface, despite any suffering we experience, if we persevere and allow our suffering to build our strength and character.
What does it take for us to believe that hope won’t disappoint us? To believe that hope will arrive, and to believe it so strongly that we’ll eventually rejoice in our sufferings? Well, it takes faith. When you think of it, that’s really the only gift we can give the Lord. It’s all He’s ever asked of us.
Today’s Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know what I struggle with today. Please give me strength to persevere, to be strong in character, and to always hope in You. Amen.
Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written inspirational romantic comedies for Harvest House Publishers and Summerside Press, including Love Finds You on Christmas Morning. She has served as a columnist and as a newsletter editor over the years, as well as a 1980s stockbroker and a board member of the Capital Christian Writers organization in Washington, D.C. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America and holds a degree in Psychology. Visit her Website at www.TrishPerry.com