Taking Part in the Process

I’ve finished Romans and moved on to Judges; but of course, I haven’t blogged on it. No excuses. Here’s my life:

I spent five days in Portland with Kerrie. She has survived her first chemo, though there were moments she wished that survival weren’t an option. Honestly, anyone who does cancer treatment deserves much more than their life. I’m suggesting an island in the South Pacific. What do you think?

Kerrie had a bout of nausea that lasted about six days. The doctor tried to help. But even in the best of moments, she was either barfing her guts out, or completely unconscious. Not good for a self-employed artist. She’s only recently started eating again. Just in time. She has her next treatment one week from Thanksgiving Day. This coming Tuesday, she is planning a “shave my head” party. Trying to make the best of it all. She’s my hero! I had no idea what chemotherapy involves.

Our Bible study group at church just finished the trial version of the Jeremiah Bible study. They had a great time, and showered me with thank you cards and CHOCOLATE! Now, my goal is to finish editing that version and ship it to the publisher by mid-December. It’s harder than it sounds. I’ve never done anything like this before.

I spoke at a Women’s Gig at Lighthouse Christian Center in Puyallup this past Monday. Woke with a sore throat, downed zinc and Airborne. When I walked up to the podium, I didn’t think I could do it. But God gave me the strength I needed to do well. He is good!

I’m ready to have my kids home. The oldest returns from California on Wednesday. The middle child perhaps then too? My two WSU students are heading home tomorrow. I’ve gotten the carpets cleaned and we are re-coating the wood floors in my kitchen. Life is VERY busy.

So, where do I want to stop in Romans? Try Romans 5:1-5. The context? Well that begins in the chapter’s first verse. “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight bty faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”

The context for the next passage begins with our new position in Christ. Because of him, we have confidence and joy about our future. Certainly, some of that future concerns what awaits us in heaven. But there is more. Paul continues in verse three.

“We can rejoice too when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of chartacter in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint ius. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

So, what is the point?

Many religions differ on what difficulties mean to our lives. For some, handling difficulties well enables us to achieve a higher status in some future life. For others, handling difficulties well banks good “karma” for the future. The lady who does my pedicure faces difficulty aspiring to disconnect herself from her pain. For her, being disconnected is the highest goal.

But Paul tells us that for believers our difficulties “shape us.” They make us better. And because of our new standing in Christ, we have a kind of deep inner peace as we face any difficulty. We know that God controls our future. And more than that, God has INVESTED in our future.

He has given us the HOLY SPIRIT, who lives inside us and HELPS to grow character in our difficulty.

You see, growth isn’t all up to us. Neither is it God’s sole responsibility. And difficulty is not some random thing that happens TO us. Instead it has purpose. Design. And when we cooperate, we experience the satisfaction of seeing growth in our lives.

Now THAT, my friend is VERY good.

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