trials, tribulation

"We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And Patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us." Romans 5:3-5a NCV

Hope is impossible with out difficulty. For the charmed who has never seen any hardships, there is nothing to hope for. They would not need to hope for anything, because they had never been in want. These people don't exist, we know that hard times come and go, and they affect us all (even the blessed.)

While I quote the Bible, this is not a message exclusively for those of Christian faith. Pain, suffering, trials, temptation and death are apart of life regardless of religious persuasion. Our faith, whatever it may be, dictates how we face our troubles.

This message is very real to me. My childhood was filled with the possibility that my father could be killed if ever an accident were to happen and he might not return home. I worked hard to overcome a learning disability, often refusing help from teachers and my family. We were poor. I had to learn to cope without many of the simple luxuries many of my friends took for granted. Both of my parents worked full-time, hoping to be able to provide me with more than the bare necessities while potatoes and scrambled eggs was the fanciest meal they could afford.

While my parents were here to visit over the 4th of July weekend, Dad and I got into a bit of an argument. He has wrestled with the thought that he is not a good father and that that his personal failures has caused irreparable damage to Mom, Aaron, and myself. Therefore, according to him, nothing he does is good enough, and that he must do something to right his wrongs. I told him that I forgive him for all of the s#!% that I went through as a kid. I am who I am today because of the difficulties we faced as a family when I was younger. My father is human, and like everyone else, he makes mistakes. I would be a fool to expect perfection from him.

Without those hard times, I would not understand hope. I can see the natural progession outlined in Romans 5. Patience learned from my troubles, I'm still not a patient person in general, but I can be when I need to. Character learned from patience, my father commends my character as well as my brother's. We have him to thank for our good character. Hope learned from our character.

Now, as my wife and I face trials of our own, I hope that my son learns patience and develops character. I only wish his discovery of hope isn't as difficult as was mine.

Life is fragile. Because of that frailty, I know hope.

"Lord, remember my suffering and my misery, my sorrow and trouble. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." Lamentations 3:19 NCV, 3:20-22 NIV

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