The Sniffles’ Saving Grace
By: Noelle Kirchner
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. - Romans 5:3-5
My baby fought off his first bug recently. I had dreaded the day when winter germs would take their toll. It started out with an uneventful, dry cough. By the third day, the baby threw up. By the fourth, he had a fever. That’s when I heard the doctor say: It’s RSV.
My first question was, “Will he need to be hospitalized?” No, the doctor countered. This respiratory virus peaks in symptoms at 4–5 days. The doctor was examining my son at his worst, and he was going to be okay. I went home relieved, but vigilant. What transpired in the days to come were eucalyptus rubs, aspirations, endless rocking, and pain medicine for his simultaneous teething.
As hard as it was on my baby and me, I knew that even this would lead to something good. My baby was surviving a nasty bug and building important immunity. Building immunity is no fun for anyone, but it will serve him for his whole life.
It got me thinking about life and how God works. God is our loving parent. He holds our hand through trial, but that doesn’t mean we’ll never experience it. It’s how we grow. It’s how we mature in his grace and develop depth. Like immunity, character develops when it’s tested.
Is there something that you have been dealing with that you would rather not be? Could it be that God is developing you through the process into someone better, stronger, and more dependent upon him?
The “perseverance” that Paul mentions in our passage concerns exercising patience in adversity. The Stoicism that was popular in Paul’s day valued this kind of patience, along with seasoned character. The outcome of this philosophy fell short, however, as it could only offer shallow optimism or settled fatalism in suffering. Paul, on the other hand, claims genuine hope.
The hope that Paul claims can only come from God. It is scriptural: It is based upon the God who led his people through the wilderness of adversity and into the Promised Land. It is proven: Paul had seen its fruit come from perseverance in his own life and that of others. Also, it does not disappoint or “put us to shame,” because it is grounded in God’s irrefutable love.
While hope is made possible by God’s love, this love is not one-sided. Just as God loves us, the Holy Spirit inspires our love for God. When we feel it, we experience proof of God’s saving activity. We can rest assured that God’s plan includes working all things—even trial—for our good and his glory (Romans 8:28).
As I held my coughing baby, I could see the look of confusion on his face. He felt awful and didn’t understand why. All he knew was that he felt better in my arms, the arms of someone who loves him. God wants to be that person for you. Bring your confusion and pain to his everlasting arms. Trust that his plan can redeem everything you’re experiencing. The hope that Paul claims is not just available—it’s alive in you.
Want more encouragement to hope? Read my article for iBelieve, “5 Spiritual Tools to Help You Overcome the Storms of Life.”
Rev. Noelle Kirchner, MDiv., believes we don’t have to live with full schedules and thin souls. A busy mom of three boys, she is passionate about making faith fresh and relevant. Noelle is a graduate of Princeton Seminary and an ordained Presbyterian minister who has served in churches for over ten years. She has written for places like the TODAY Show Parenting Team, Huff Post Parents, The Laundry Moms, and (in)courage. Her faith and family cable television show, Chaos to Calm, features parenting hot topics and has hosted two New York Times bestselling authors. Watch her episodes or sermons, connect with her on social media, and follow her blog by visiting her website, or receive her free devotional e-book.
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