December 16, 2010, Third Thursday in Advent
Scripture: Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Paul hasn’t spent a lot of time in our world, has he? If he had, certainly he would not tell us to rejoice in our times of trouble, would he? How can Paul expect us to rejoice? We have bills to pay and not sure where the money is coming from. We have family problems that won’t seem to get resolved. Our jobs can be frustrating at times. The list can go on and on. Paul just doesn’t get our culture and the times we live in today.
Or does he?
Often in times of trouble our first response is to complain. Things didn’t go the way we expect or our a little frustrating, so we get upset, angry, and complain to anyone who will listen. Now, there are times when we should complain, get upset, and get angry, but what is Paul specifically calling us to in these times here?
Paul is calling us to use these difficult moments in our lives, and learn from them. For each time of trial or problem that comes up is an opportunity to grow closer to God in our obedience to God and in our relationship with God. We can learn a little more about us, and also more about God and God’s plan for us. How we progress through the problems helps us to build endurance – we can make it through these problems because of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. It builds character as we grow in our relationship and our strengthened by the love of Christ. We have confidence in God, in all of this, that God will see us through.
So, take time in the midst of any trials to stop, take a breath, say a prayer, and ask God what God may be teaching you this day. Allow these problems to be an opportunity for spiritual growth and growth in our relationship with God.
Lord, you know the struggles, the problems, and the challenges that each of us face this day. Use these moments to strengthen us, to challenge us, to build us up into the image of what you have for us. In Christ Name. Amen.