Wednesday, March 6, 2013 — Week of Lent 3 (Year One)
William W. Mayo, Charles F. Menninger, and Their Sons, Pioneers in Medicine, 1911, 1953[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 954)
Psalms 78:1-39 (morning) // 78:40-72 (evening)
Jeremiah 8:18 – 9:6
“…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 5:3b-5)
When you know yourself to be securely grounded in God, there is an essential sense of safety that can liberate us from the fear and anxiety that accompanies so many troubles. It is a state much to be desired. It is a gift that takes faith to receive.
Paul is an icon of that security. We know from his letters that he lived with so many disappointments and conflicts. His emotions and agonies erupt through so many of his words. And yet, below everything is a grounded security that settles the spirit and inspires a peaceful, confident perseverance.
Elsewhere he lists some of his sufferings. They make my quiet life look pretty tame. He lists beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, and threats. Through it all he has laid his trust upon God in Christ. Now, in his last surviving letter, he writes about what his sufferings have taught him.
As each loss, grief, disappointment, conflict and hurt has happened, he has persevered in Christ. He has endured. A major part of his character has been formed by his endurance. He knows he can endure. He knows his strength through weakness. He is a fundamentally hopeful person. His hope is not about particular things, for particular things sometimes go bad. His hope is in God. His hope is in the ultimate outcome that all will be well for God makes it so. God takes crosses and creates resurrection.
Below everything is love, because God is love. God’s love is not something abstract, but the very life of the divine “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
All of this might just seem like preaching — nice, pious words — except we know the rest of the story. We know a little of how much Paul has suffered. We know he has had to put his life on the line, and these words represent real endurance, character, and hope, grounded in a love that is eternal.
I’ve quoted this before, but it bears repeating. The late Gerald May offers a similar reflection to Paul’s thoughts: “Searching beneath anxiety, one will find fear. And beneath fear hurt will be discovered. Beneath the hurt will be guilt. Beneath the guilt lie rage and hatred. But do not stop with this, for beneath the rage lies frustrated desire. Finally beneath and beyond desire, is love. In every feeling, look deeply. Explore without ceasing. At bottom, love is.” (Simply Sane, p. 87)
It all comes from God. Including all crosses.