“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 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. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that 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 that has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5 (NRSV)
Our community offers a weekly green market next to our clubhouse for fresh fruits and vegetables. As we were standing in line this week, social distancing with masks, of course, we started speaking with one of the men who was staffing the market. We complimented him on the beautiful fresh produce and began chatting about these days of isolation. He made a fascinating comment that I have been thinking about all day: “These days are giving us plenty of opportunity for self-reflection and self-improvement.” Well, that was a reset for my day. I began to realize that these days have given me much more time and space for spiritual reflection on my life and my priorities. I’m sure that he had no idea what his offhand comment would mean to me. Now, I am not only asking myself what it is I need to learn during this time, but what is God trying to teach me. And, will I choose to be quiet enough to hear the answers?
Together, many of us have been reading the Book of Joy – I have been struck by how often adversity has been described as a molder of our spiritual character. Both the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop Tutu described how adversity in their own lives has created some of the best periods for spiritual practice – and especially for developing patience and compassion toward ourselves and others. Passing through adversity gives us the opportunity for deepened spiritual growth, so that we might come out the other side, not embittered but ennobled. I am choosing to see this period of adversity as part of my spiritual curriculum – how about you?
Rev. Dr. Deb Kaiser-Cross
Minister for Congregational Care
Practice for This Week
What are you learning about yourself? What is God teaching you in this time?
For those who are experiencing suffering of body or soul:
O God of this moment, whether we are walking on a path of weary uncertainty that blinds us to your direction, or in a chapter of struggle that drags us into discouragement, we trust that you are with us in our wilderness. We invite you, O God, to form us with a character that reflects the legacy of the one we follow, Jesus Christ. Amen.