Thursday, July 23, 2009

Suffering = Hope

Romans 5:3-4 has been brought to my attention in two different books this week, and if that doesn't make it bloggable, I don't know what does. Fr. Charles Arminjon was the first to bring it up, footnoting it as a reference, to his attention getting statement that if we suffer, then we have great reason to hope in God. Lets read those verses in their entirety:
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
Yep, Arminjon got it right: God allows us suffering, to call forth the image of His Son in us, and that gives us reason to hope that we will be confirmed in His Life eternally. We find this same idea in the Epistle to the Hebrews too:
It is for discipline that you have to endure...For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it...God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children, and not sons (12:7,11,8)
Discipline in which all have participated? That's right, ALL:
Although he was a Son, Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him...About this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing (Hebrews 5:8-11).
Touche, oh writer of Hebrews! Suffering, not perfectly understood yet endured, while living our lives with faithfulness to God's will is redemptive! What does that mean for the person going through an unwanted divorce? For the person laid up in the hospital? For the child whose father yells too much? Whatever the difficulty, our lives have to be lived in union with Jesus - we have to try as hard as we can to manifest Jesus' words and behavior in the midst of the suffering. I started this reflection with Romans 5:3-4. Let me recap it, but carry on through verse 5, because it is the key:
Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us!
It's not about our endurance, our strength - it's about God's! We Catholics know we're not saved by faith alone, but we do rely on God's grace alone to carry us through to Heaven. ("Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27) Our hope isn't in ourselves, but in Jesus. Like Paul, we accept our share in "Jesus' sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible [we] may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:11).

So "word up" to Fr. Charles Arminjon for his pithy little, "suffering = reason to hope." There's a whole lot of Scripture and theology squeezed into that little equation. You know, another gal you might have heard of was pretty fond of this same book by Arminjon, Therese Martin... St. Therese of Lisieux. She read it at 15 and referred to it as "one of the greatest graces of my life." Not a bad endorsement.


  1. Great reminder...Thanks for the post...Suffering = Hope...You are a rock...God bless...Jason

  2. Great post, Shane! I've discussed the topic of suffering quite a bit in my blog. I think that it's interesting that disciple and discipline have the same Latin root--and we're all called to be disciples. By the way, I ordered your book through Amazon. I just can't read from a computer screen. What I read so far was great, and I look forward to finishing it!

  3. Jason - I'm glad you liked the post. Gotta tell you though, I don't feel like much of a rock. My kids might call me one though - I love staying in the air conditioning!

    Tim - I have to check out your blog. Happy the book started off well. Totally know what you mean about trying to read it on a computer screen.