Tuesday, March 10, 2015

“ . . . but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” — Romans 5: 3-5

No matter what happens to us here, we never lose hope. Karen and I are both in our seventies and far from being in good physical shape.  Both of us are in pain somewhere in our bodies twenty-four hours a day and are both fighting diabetes or blood pressure or other ailments that don’t just happen to old people.  Still, as the quote above says, while we may not exactly rejoice in our sufferings, we sure don’t let them get us down and keep us down.  We do persevere and, I guess, that is what is giving us character.  I am more used to being a character than having it, but perseverance through suffering certainly tells you a lot about yourself.  Others may give up, go home, seek more comfortable ways of living, but to quote the “Blues Brothers,” we are on a “mission from God.”  The one thing to which we cling, the thing that keeps us going when we really would rather quit, is--hope.  We do have hope because we are by nature, seed planters.  The good teachers and preachers do just that, plant seeds for trees the shade of which those teachers and preachers will never enjoy.  No matter how bad we feel, we find ways to minimize it, since we can’t eliminate it.  Karen has the unbelievable love of the cutest little dog in the world, our Tibetan Terrier, Sissie.  She also manages to get out to the school almost every day in spite of her pain to sing with the children—something she has been doing for more than fifty years.  She also has projects underway that have yet to be finished.  We both are part of something much bigger than we are, and we are blessed to be a part of it.  I suspect we would be suffering wherever we were, and, with no insurance, in the U.S. we could add financial suffering to the mix.  Here we just keep doing what we have been called to do because we know hope.  We don’t just have hope, we know hope.  We know the hope that keeps the children laughing and singing in the midst of death, poverty, and disease.  We know the hope that brings smiles to the faces of orphans as they eat the rice and beans we provide for them every day.  We have diversions as well, since when we have the internet, Karen can listen to NPR, play games on her iPad, and we have television to watch at night.  I get to play football as the New England Patriots on our PS4, and to read on my Kindle, and to work jigsaw puzzles on my computer.  I have always loved jigsaw puzzles because when you are basically seed planters, you almost never get to see a finished product.  It is nice to start with hundreds of small pieces that I can slowly and carefully put together (while I listen to classical music) and end up with a famous work of art or a beautiful scene in nature.  It’s nice to be able to sit back, look at the finished puzzle and know that I did that.  It is also nice to know that God has poured His love into us through the Holy Spirit and that He will never abandon us.  That, folks, is hope.  It is what gets us through each and every day, and it is for what we live and why we live and why we serve.  It is more than enough.  Hope is knowing that God keeps all His promises, and you can take that to the bank.  
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