By Mark E. Smith
In college, I took a course, The Bible as Literature. While I understand that such a course’s secular treatment of a sacred text may not sit well with all, it did make the Bible accessible to many students unfamiliar with the writings. For me, as one who was raised Catholic, the class converted what I’d only known as a child as a daunting, abstract text and allowed me to see relevance in its words to my own life.
Recently, Romans 5 came up in conversation, and when I looked it up, eying it from both spiritual and secular perspectives, I was touched by a verse that I recognized of a profound truth:
…We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:2-4)
Think about that. Suffering leads to perseverance, which builds character, which leads to hope. In facing life’s trials and tribulations, I’ve realized this is the exact path that many of us have followed during extreme adversity. Suffering brings out our perseverance, which builds our character and results in hope.
What is most powerful about recognizing this intrinsic process is that it adds tremendous comfort in the face of adversity. I don’t know why this is happening, but I know where it’s leading me.
I spoke with my father-in-law, who’s a minister, and he made a relatable comment that boils down to, we may not like the process at times, but the reason behind it and the outcome are worth it.
At points in our lives, we’re going to question adversity and suffering. Having an answer as to its purpose can serve as a tremendous coping mechanism. Or, maybe when we reach that insight, it’s simply perseverance, character, and hope kicking in – right on queue.