Gleanings: Romans 5:3-5


Gleanings—Romans 5:3-5

More than that, we rejoice 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 who has been give to us. (RSV)

First a confession—I’ve never been a fan of the suffering is good so let’s inflict some more school of thought that some of the Saints seem to espouse. I’m much more of St. Therese’s line of thought—there is enough suffering in daily life for complete sanctification, if only we avail ourselves of the opportunities available.

Suffering is painful, unpleasant, and not the way things were meant to be—it is a radical sign of our separation from God and it exists because of that separation. And yet suffering is something that builds us up. Suffering with the help of the Holy Spirit becomes endurance, a kind of spiritual stubbornness.

However, one of the first thoughts that came to mind as I read this passage is a specific sort of suffering—the kind we call temptation. Every temptation and the struggle to resist it is a kind of suffering. In some cases, struggling against certain physical addictions, it may actually produce a bodily sensation of pain. In some cases the suffering may be psychological in nature as we at once struggle against the temptation and find ourselves strangely, magnetically attracted to what would separate us from God.

The suffering that comes from resisting temptation is particularly efficacious in the way that St. Paul describes. If ordinary suffering that comes from a head cold or a bodily wound can work its way to endurance, how much more so the suffering and the tempering that comes from choosing to act in accord with the Holy Spirit. If suffering that appears to have no spiritual context builds up the spirit to give us the strength to endure and grow, what does suffering that stems from the spiritual struggle itself do?

Struggling against temptation is a form of suffering that we experience every day When we, with the aid of the Holy Spirit succeed in resisting the temptation there may be no “feeling” of victory, no sensation of triumph or of conquering what truly leads to death. The life of faith is beyond that of sensation and sense. Great things are accomplished with virtually no recognition on our part. When we leave the battlefield without having given in, the victory does not belong to us, or at least not to us alone, but to the Holy Spirit within us, to the presence of the indwelling Christ, to whom we have approached a step closer, even if we are ignorant of it.

A friend recently shared with me his experience of confession and of admitting to being tempted time and again and of struggling against temptation. The wisdom that came to him from his confessor is worth repeating and sharing, “But it is worth it, isn’t it?” As Saint Paul points out in this passage, the struggle, the suffering is beyond the worth a human being can know in this life

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 13, 2008 6:57 AM.

Gleanings: Titus 1: 15-16 was the previous entry in this blog.

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