As we continue our journey through Lent, Christians throughout Columbia will be sharing their own beautifully written ‘letters from the heart.’ Each will be accompanied by corresponding relevant scripture verse(s), and linked to sources for further study. If you would like to join us on Columbia’s Lenten journey, please send us your ‘letter from the heart’ by email. Especially meaningful submissions will be printed. Let us continue our Lenten journey of repentance, meditation, and anticipation day-by-day, to its glorious culmination on Easter morning.
Today’s scripture reading is from Romans 8:11-25.
“We worship a God who does not give good advice from a great, safe distance away. Our God is a God who enters the furnace of tribulation with s. Our God is Emmanuel – God with us,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
In every era of history, pain and suffering have been part of the human experience. To follow the teachings of Christ in Paul’s time would have meant to risk the pain and suffering of alienation, divisiveness and even persecution. Even as Christians today, we identify with the suffering of Christ in our daily lives.
Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans that while God does not promise to remove all pain and suffering from our lives on earth, he does promise a more glorious life in Christ, a life of grace. Paul likens the hope for this life of grace to the hopeful expectation of a mother giving birth.
I remember vividly the fear that accompanied the great joy of expecting a child for the first time. I had no idea what to expect, aside from the frighteningly descriptive childbirth stories of mothers who had survived the experience and so readily shared them with me. In spite of my fears, God was with me regardless of the outcome. In retrospect, I need not have worried so greatly about surviving the physical ordeal or about my baby growing up to be a healthy, happy child. In our daily lives, it can be easy to give into worry or fear and forget that we are not alone, but Paul reminds us that God is with us, in difficult times and when we are free of fear. We do not have to worry, hope or wait by ourselves. We must be patient and put our trust in God.
Paul tells us that as we share in Christ’s suffering, we also share in His glory. It is in our hope and patience that we are set free from worry, because God is with us. In my own experience as a mother, I quickly realized the fear that I had carried with me during my pregnancy was nothing in comparison to the joy that accompanied raising my child. God does not promise me a perfect life, but He does promise to share in both the trials and celebration that face us. He is with us now and will be in the future.
Columbia, South Carolina
If you enjoyed this Lenten meditation, you can find more at Sharon's Columbia Biblical Studies Examiner homepage.