“To Be Perfect” (Romans 5: 3 – 4, ESV) by Carley Evans

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

“That which does not kill us makes us strong,” says one of the characters in the play, STEEL MAGNOLIAS. The character says this to a mother who has lost her young daughter. This mother says, “No. No. I’m not ready for this. I was supposed to go first. I was supposed to go first.”

So often, we are not ready for the tragedies which befall us. They blind-side us. Somehow, we forget that life is hard, and that everyone suffers. We seem surprised when bad things happen, and ask “why?” We forget that the real question is “why not?”

James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1: 2 – 4)

To be perfect, complete and lacking nothing, Jesus suffered. “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5: 7 – 10)

As Jesus suffered, so shall we. Counting our sufferings as joys is the most difficult task we face. Look back on your life; see if it isn’t true — true that after a particularly difficult time, you found a new strength, a new happiness, a new peacefulness you did not fully know or appreciate before your time of testing, of trial, of suffering.

“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: 4 – 5)

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