Rejoice in Suffering

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open bible beachChristian faith has always been a part of my life.  Before this awakening occurred, I was actively involved in an awesome, loving, Lutheran congregation.  My family and I attended church regularly and I always knew my salvation rested in Christ alone.

However, before this past summer, there were many weeks when I didn’t pray at all between Sunday services.  My stance towards God seemed to be – “Things are good, God.  I’ll take it from here.”  But, when this emotional turmoil started, I ran straight to the Bible, prayed constantly, and sought God’s peace and direction at every step.

I’ve always loved the Serenity Prayer and even had it posted at my desk at work (somehow it had slid behind some pictures – which, in retrospect, was fitting given my viewpoint at the time).  Most folks know the first stanza, but the rest of the prayer is wonderful too:

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

Every portion of this prayer spoke to the transformation I was embarking upon: staying in the moment, accepting my emotions, trusting the Lord’s control of my life, and embracing His peace over my personal happiness.  I prayed this prayer almost compulsively during the hardest moments.

Finding inspiration and direction in God’s Word also opened my eyes to many new verses that spoke of surrendering to God’s peace.  One verse that helped me rest in the Lord’s plan for me was in Romans, chapter 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  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: 1-5

Rejoicing in our sufferings.  This concept helped me to realize that God was going to do something significant with this pain.  Looking back, finding this verse was the first step in my reframing of this experience.  Rather than seeing it as something awful that I wanted to quickly get through, I started to think of this searching as growth.  I recall using the term “growing pains” to describe my feelings. Learning new things has always excited and stimulated me.  Seeing this phase of life as one of growth- a time to learn new lessons – really helped me to embrace the journey and try not to rush ahead to the finish line.

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