Divine Virtues and Earthly Troubles
Rom. 5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Paul rejoices in what Christ has done for his people and invites them to share in the hope of the glory of God. At the same time he is well aware of the struggles that Christians face in the world. However, instead of threatening the peace of God’s people they actually can produce in us a greater assurance of our hope. Sufferings in our lives are used by God produce an ability to endure and to shape character. This, in turn, produces hope because our desire is to be like Christ. Therefore the shaping of the divine virtues in our lives is of far greater value than any earthly troubles which we may face. Basil the Great tells us that “tribulations are like certain foods and exercises for athletes which lead the contestant on to the inheritance of glory.” (Homily 16) Hope will not let us down as we press on to be shaped by our circumstances into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
None of us would wish to have earthly troubles. It would be so nice if life could just go by smoothly and everything turn out the way that we would like. Unfortunately, this is not the way that things will usually work and we can determine what type of attitude we will have in the midst of difficulty. We tend to shy away from things that are hard and gravitate toward the easy path. What is lost on us is the easy path may not be the path of virtue. Divine virtues are the practices in our lives that reflect Jesus Christ. Our Lord never sought out the easy path for his life. He deliberately chose the rocky road which ultimately led to his death. To become like Christ in this world means that we will suffer, but we will endure. We will endure and we will be shaped by Christ’s character. We will share in Christ’s character and we will have hope because we will participate in the glory of God. There is nothing in comparison with knowing Christ. Paul knew this and was willing to sacrifice everything to know Christ intimately.
How much do we really want to know Christ? How far are we willing to go in our spiritual lives to seek him? As we pray this prayer may we be ready to face what may lie ahead in perseverance and endurance, living into the hope that will never disappoint.
LORD, thank you for your incredible promise of hope. Amen.
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