5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:2 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. 5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5:5 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. [NRSV]
Paul’s words of encouragement are for times that we recognize the gift of grace and for the times, while we may be living in grace, but do not recognize the neighborhood. God stands with us. Pauls invites us to stand with Christ, in the Holy Spirit.
This is a rich and thick passage:
Justification: The work God has done through Christ that gives us grace.
Boasting in our Hope: Something worth celebrating and worth talking about with others, in the faith and those outside the bounds.
You who are Star Wars fans will remember when Jedi Master Yoda speaks to young Anakin, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.”
Fear we know! Fear of failure, the unknown, revealing our shame, Storms of winds, emotions and nature: all powers that appear greater than our own.
Paul writes to encourage and remind us of another progression of learning: “suffering produces endurance, 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
The role we have as the church, as the present and living body of Christ is to stand firm in the Power of the Holy Spirit and teach and remind one another not to be lost in our suffering.
Tragic deaths in Oklahoma, London. Rumors of corruptions, deceit, and mis-use of power from our leaders and government. Uncertain times of economic change. Relentless news of Cancers, wars and divisions. We do not have to look far to see and hear news of suffering.
Our prayers are a most often litanies of suffering. If not our own suffering the hurt and fears of the world and those dear to us.
Why do we bring these to the attention of the body? Why share them in church? Is it for us to share a one-up story of who has the worse news or the latest gossip? No. Sometimes people ask me to repeat the concerns lifted up by others, so they can hear the news. I offer to you that it is not for our ears that we share our prayer concerns. It is for the heart of God to hear our suffering. If you want to know what someone said, go ask them after worship, but right now it is God’s time of hearing and receiving.
We share with God to remind ourselves and God that we so desperately and earnestly need the power of God’s Spirit in our lives.
This is the challenge Paul gives to the church in Roman and to us in our hearing of his words:
STAND FIRM in the GRACE God has given us. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
When you and I see and hear suffering, become reminder of the Grace
What is grace: It is God’s loving-kindness given to us, that even while we are filled with sin, fear, anger, and hate.. God gives us the love and life we need and the means to find our way back to the heart of God.
Is there anything that is stronger than God?
Is there anyone more powerful than God?
Is there any place God will not go to save us?
Is there any time God stops loving us and desiring our heart to be in relationship with God’s heart?
Oh, how the world around us needs to hear what we know by heart.
BOAST: Brag! Tell with joyful pride, that Christ has claimed even me, and you, and those who hear our witness!
Could you imagine gives peace to someone who was sad? broken? empty? lonely? afraid? enraged? at the end of their hope?
Simply by sharing with them what gives you peace…
What gives us peace? We may not always use the term or name, but it is God’s Spirit that gives us peace.
We experience it through relationship, creation, song and art, scripture and science, alone and with whole crowds and congregations..
but it is the Holy Spirit that is our peace.. God’s continuing council, presence, power, advocate and strength.
REJOICE: BOAST: Be glad, you are in the Spirit. Tell the hurting and suffering world…
The suffering you have endured has built your character and that new appreciate of a life in Christ is the evidence and power of God’s hope in you.
Have Hope, Share Hope
Have Grace, Share Grace
Have the breath of God, Breath the Good News to all who still suffer.