What doesn't kill you makes you hopeful...

I am aware that the phrasing of this post's title isn't correct... at least not if you're a Kelly Clarkson fan or even if you're into cutesy magnets or bumper stickers. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That's the line.

There are analogies for this... when you break a bone, for instance, that part of the bone heals and the site of the break is stronger. I could go into the biological details of this... throwing out terms like "osteocyte" to show how smart I am and that, hey, I went to college. But I might just ask you to trust me and that I know what I'm talkin' 'bout. Mk? Also, ask successful married couples about what makes their marriage work, and they will most likely reference a difficult season in their marriage. A "breaking point" that they chose to endure, rather than (for the sake of analogy) "killing" the marriage.

But I don't know that this is the end goal. At least not for Christians. Romans 5 says that suffering produces endurance. I get this. We learn to endure by pressing into Jesus and our community, pouring over scripture, praying, whatever. It doesn't stop there, however. Paul goes on to say that endurance then produces character. I think this where we, and Miss Clarkson, choose to stop. It makes us stronger. It makes us better people. This is the secular view of justifying suffering. Although I have known people who have came out of suffering for the worse (embittered, angry, calloused) there are numerous stories of people coming out "stronger" or more gracious, understanding, patient. So, in a sense, they come out "stronger." But Jesus doesn't want to stop with our character. The passage says that "character produces HOPE and hope does not put us to shame."

This is a little confusing. We start with suffering and along the way learn to endure and develop better character... and the end result is hope. Hope in what?

Jesus. His return. His dependability. His unchanging nature. We hope in the fact that, despite all of the chaos and confusion in the world, He is still who He says He is and He is still for our good. And we surrender in our suffering by accepting it as being allowed by God so that we can become more like Jesus... even if we never know the reason for our suffering. We can respond like Job- who ended up still praising God despite NEVER know the origins of his suffering... or like Job's wife- cursing God and begging her husband to turn his back on his Creator. Because when Paul says in Romans 8:28 that God works all things together for our good... he goes on in verse 29 to say that this "good" is that we be conformed to the image of Jesus. That is our hope. That is why we do not become untethered and emotional by the state of the world or the small disruptions throughout our day. Because all suffering is for our good... which is making us more like Jesus, giving us more hope, reminding us of our good, good Father.

This is how I can go through my day with open hands... knowing that interrupted naps, unplanned stomach bugs, family drama and a tight budget are all for my good- which ultimately is making me more hopeful and more Christlike. Because God says it is... and everything He says is true.


Popular Posts