Theology Thursday: Rejoice in suffering?
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
By Pastor Jim Miller
GCU Corporate Chaplain
Oxymoron. You know, using words together that would seem to be self-contradictory. Like Microsoft Works. Jumbo shrimp. Or, in this case, rejoice in suffering.
Wait, what? Now I get what the word rejoice means. I did an extensive cross-referencing of the word a couple of years ago, pages of verses that helped define what the word is expressing. (What, that doesn’t excite you?) And what I found is that not only is rejoicing a very noisy thing (shouting, singing, praise, joy), it’s also a very glad type of thing, a positive emotional response — you can go almost so far to say it means happy.
So … happy when I suffer? How is it that I can be glad that I’m suffering?
Well, first, it’s because we can be confident that God is using our suffering in our lives to bring about something that we need — it produces endurance and character and hope, and we need that! But it’s also possible to rejoice in suffering because we know that God is a good Father who loves us and is concerned about everything we are going through.
We don’t have to fear. We don’t have to be anxious. We don’t have to despair. Our suffering is bringing about something essential in us. And the God who cares about us is beside us in the midst of it. And that’s just terribly good and awfully nice.
The next all-employee Chapel is Wednesday, Aug. 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Building 71, first floor meeting room. Scott Hovater, online faculty in the College of Theology, is the speaker.