Tribulation – Perseverance – Character – Hope
What really is tribulation? For me, it has been the conflict between church men. Worry, tension, distrust and frustration have thrown us into despair and prayer and frank discussion. There have been times of peace, yes, like the ebb and flow of all things. Always it returned to distract and frustrate.
I believe that most tribulation is people induced not circumstance induced. Nobody would truly starve or be ill due to neglect in our circles. These inconveniences are overcome among us, for us, and by us. We take care of our own! But we conflict about each others’ motives. We argue a lot. We elbow for a better position in the parade. We create our own tribulation. “In honor preferring one another” is fairly foreign to our human nature even among us Christians. We prefer our own way, often.
How much of perseverance is sticking to it…OR just being stuck with no escape possible? Maybe most of perseverance is slogging along simply because one does not have the option of running. Maybe it is to understand that “get me out of here” is just a dream to diffuse the current pain of our conflict. I, for one, do not deserve any reward for gallantly persevering. If perseverance is to hate the issues at hand and purposefully refuse to discuss them while others have to, I’m in. If perseverance is flying to prayer, I’m in. If it is burying myself in my own responsibilities and doing them with all of my might to avoid what is going on around me while others have to face it, I get an A+ on it. If scorning conflict as immaterial to the real deal of eternity is perseverance, I win.
In the end, I have to conclude that perseverance is all of it. God wants each of us: those who engage AND those of us who duck; but we all meet it with prayer and trust in God Who controls everything anyway. To come through and not around is perseverance and lo! It does produce character.
I am kinder today – a bit beyond the tolerant me of yesterday. I am softer and more generous in my heart with the rest of us because I realize that we all have equal share in failures and in growing up. Now we know that behind this man’s weakness and that man’s reflexive behaviors are incidents and events that shape him to be who is he is today. He has reasons for what he does. This doesn’t justify him; it explains him. Only Jesus can justify him, or me, for that matter.
Which brings me straight into the way of hope. All of us hope for an eternity with Him. Not the wishing kind of hope, but the guarantee kind of hope.
Verse 5: Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.