A reflection on Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we[d] also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
As beautiful as Spring is here in Florida, I must admit that my favorite season is fall…the “-Bers” as my youngest daughter calls them. I love these last four months of the year that all end in “-ber.” September is marked with the return of football, going back to school, and the resumption of routine in both my family and the life of the church. In October, there is usually a break in summer temperatures and all sorts of special events and festivals. It is also my birthday month and I have always tried to stretch that celebration beyond just one day. November is highlighted with Thanksgiving, Advent, and start of the holiday season. And then we culminate with December; filled with parties, celebrations, meaningful Christmas Eve services, family time, and of course, Christmas. Just listing why these months mean something to me gets me excited, but then I start to think about how these coming months will be different due to COVID. We have already seen how football is without crowds in this time of social distancing. Students are going back to school in a very different way. I consider how traveling, parties, and social gatherings will likely look like nothing before. I wonder about how we will celebrate Thanksgiving (which usually has 30+ family members) and Christmas (no parade or big parties).
I must admit that when I think about my favorite season in 2020, I am disappointed. I am disappointed that it won’t be the same. Not that it won’t happen, just that it won’t be the same as it has always been. I need to remind myself that this disappointment is due to my own expectations. There will still be school (just in a new way), routine (just a different type of pattern right now), football (just with artificial crowd noise), my birthday (still a cause for celebration), Thanksgiving, and Christmas. All those things that I look forward to will just be different. I need to look forward to the newness of this season in life. The newness and even hope that comes as we face and overcome challenges. As we hear in the passage from Romans, suffering produces endurance, which leads to character, which results in hope. This hope is from God and will never be a source of disappointment. This fall, I hope you will join me in trying not to be disappointed that things are different, but instead let’s look for the ways that God is doing new things and bringing new sources of hope into our lives. May we always be reminded of God’s steadfast and active love bringing hope out of suffering.
Holy God, help us to be reminded of Your constant presence in our lives and the blessings that You shower upon us daily. May we celebrate new hope and new ways of living as Your faithful disciples. In Jesus’ name, Amen.