Strength in Suffering – Week of February 26, 2024

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5

My friend wrote about a recent bike ride that she started the ride strong but during the last hour, she needed to take frequent breaks. She was frustrated and disappointed about how quickly she became tired. But when they got back to the car, she realized that the front tire had popped and she had been riding on a flat tire for at least an hour. She said “I guess there’s a life lesson there: when tempted to be hard on oneself, it’s always a good idea to first make sure we’re not actually trying to push ourselves along on a flat tire”.

Do you feel as though you are pushing yourself along on a flat tire? God tells us that we will have suffering in our lives. There will be pain, disappointment, and death. We will have flat tires. But he also promises that he will help us through these sufferings by giving us three things: peace, prayer, and hope.

God gives us the peace that we are truly forgiven through the death and life of his son, Jesus Christ. This peace is not just a “feel-good” emotional kind of peace, because this peace doesn’t come from a human—it comes from God, through Jesus. This peace gives us strength and confidence to work through challenges in this sinful world.

God also gives us “access” to him through prayer. He wants us to come to him with any fear or need, and he promises to hear us. We can come to him at any hour, all day. While we may not always get the end result that we hope for, we know that God listens and answers.

Finally, God gives us hope. He gives us hope for the future—not only hope for our life on earth but the hope that we will be in heaven after our sufferings in this world are over. This type of hope isn’t a wish. It is not the same as when we say something like “I hope I get the job”, or “I hope it doesn’t rain today”. This type of hope is already a “done deal”. We know that we will go to heaven. This hope is reliable because God is reliable.

So we can look at our problems and trials of this world with different eyes. When we feel like we are pushing along on a flat tire, we can remember the peace that we are forgiven. We can come to God in prayer for strength to endure and persevere. And we can rejoice that, no matter the outcome of the earthly suffering, we have hope for our future in heaven.

For further meditation:
See Christian Worship 870 O, Church Arise, especially stanza four.

A Question to Consider:
What words of comfort can you give to a friend (or yourself!) who seems to be “pushing along on a flat tire”? How can the gifts of peace, prayer, and hope help in hard times?

Early Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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