A stroll to the park this evening with my children led me to cross paths with a neighbor I haven’t seen in a while. She and I visited on a park bench while our kids kicked a soccer ball back and forth on the grass behind us.
We began with the typical chit-chat: “Beautiful weather!” “How’s school?” “How’s work?” and ended an hour later with a discussion about Bible Study Groups.
She’s Catholic; I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We both enjoy studying the Bible at home and at church.
I mentioned the devotional I read this morning on the verses found in Romans 5:3-4:
“…glory in tribulation…”, I repeated to her.
Looking at me with tear-filled eyes, she confessed that her family is going through some serious tribulation right now. After confiding in me the details of the situation, she asked if I would pray for her family.
Knowing the power of prayer, I was grateful for the opportunity to do so.
As I listened to her speak, I felt incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have gotten to know her over the past 10 years.
Initially, ten years ago, things were a bit awkward between us as I knew only basic details about her: married with two children, stay-at-home mom, husband drives a red sportscar.
Then, as we spent more time talking each time our paths would cross, we learned more details about each other, our families, religion, and so on.
Today, after having spent time in each other’s homes, swimming together, attending family birthday parties, and more, our level of neighborliness has been elevated another notch.
We are no longer simply casual neighbors; we are neighbors AND friends.
Neighbors who are friends. It’s a beautiful thing.
This morning’s devotional by Asserre Bradley, Jr. gave me something to think about:
PATIENCE AND HOPE
“We glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience, and experience, hope.
– Romans 5:3-4
When we are suffering physically or passing through a time of great trial, it doesn’t seem possible that any good could ever come out of it. Yet Paul says we glory in tribulations; and the reason we do is that, though at the time we cannot see it, something good is going to come out of the trial. The suffering itself is not good but the patience, the experience, the hope that spring from it is very good.
When we face trials that are outside of our control, we are made to learn the lesson of patience. Whether we want to or not, we have to wait. We don’t get what we want immediately. But so often, when the trial is finally lifted, we are able to see how God has used even this difficulty to shape our lives, and the lives of others perhaps, in ways that we could never have imagined. Thus, trials give us experience of God’s wisdom and faithfulness.
In the time of suffering we come to place great value on the promises of God. We may know the promises by memory, but they are never so full of meaning as when we claim them in our darkest hours and deepest struggles. The patience and experience we have gained from past deliverances gives us hope to trust in the Lord and in his promises.
Good has come from our trials because we now have a greater sense our weakness and God’s strength. We have been drawn to a closer walk with him, and his promises are not just words but a reality in our life. So with Paul we “glory in tribulations.”