Annunciation of the Lord: Gospel and alternate Psalms Passage – How Mary played a part to bring the Light to fruition

[I’m going to tread down a divergent path for this passage, so be warned. ]

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” (Luke 1:26 – 27)

Have you asked or heard about how your mother and father met? My parents met as a high school they both attended. My husband’s parents just got to know each other living in a small town, or at least I assume that is the story. My husband and I met at college. My grandfather say my grandmother traveling on a street car and liked her looks enough that he followed the street car. For every child, there is a story about how his/her parents met – regardless of whether it is a pleasant story of not.

In the Jewish tradition that Jesus grew up in, most marriages were arranged. So Joseph and Mary may have been matched up by their families instead of meeting at the market square or by the town’s water well. Jesus’ mother and his “other” Father – that’s a different story.

“And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Verses 28 – 33)

Now Mary and the Lord God knew each other. She had to in order to “have found favor with God.” While women did not serve in the Temple or Synagogue, and they had a special place in the Lord God’s house of worship, it was not uncommon for a woman to be devote in worship of God. Jesus and his disciples knew of women who were devote, as did Paul. So Mary must have been such a woman of devotion. But nothing in any woman’s experience of worship of God would point to this type of service to God. Mary did not question that she was called into service to God but wonder how this would come about according to her understanding of fertility and child birth.

“Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.” (Verses 34 to 35)

I used to think that it was a great burden to place on a young girl to be singled out by God and be made subject to the type of criticism and disfavor that she must have borne in her community. I have revised my thinking on that. But still, it must have made an interesting story to young Jesus when/if he asked about how his parents met or how babies are born or any of the other questions young children might ask. Questions that are universal and timeless amongst young humanity.

Just as Mary’s pregnancy was distinct and set apart from other women in her community, so too was the birth of Jesus. It is good to remember this when we think of Jesus. From the first moment of his conception is was different and set apart. Yet he grew and matured as any other child and young man. It is good to remember this as we journey through Lent. That Jesus’ life story is close to ours, but yet different. That we may live a life like any other, yet as followers of the Lord God and Jesus Christ we are set apart. And that all followers of the Divine are part of a unique family starting with Mary, and with Joseph.

“And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.” (Verses 36 – 38)

“Let it be.” One of the many reasons I admire Mary is that she trusted in the Lord God so completely that she was obedient. Even when things looked unfathomable, she trusted. I try to that too. And I look to the same God that she did. Through that connection she is my spiritual sister.

I do not know if Mary would have read the psalms or been familiar with them. I would like to think that she was. Because it seems to me, in many ways, Mary’s life lives out the psalms. To her is credited the Magnificat. And the alternate psalms passage for this day sounds a lot like what Mary might have felt.

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.
Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” (Psalms 40:5 – 8)

Mary, however, did not say much out loud. Many times the scriptures tells us she pondered things in her heart. I would like to think in her older/later years she talked and told the people around her about what God had done for her and how the Lord had accepted her service. Indeed, how would we know so many things about Mary if she had not spoken to someone?

“I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” (Verses 9 – 10)

The Day of Annunciation is at it’s foundation Mary’s story. Yes, it is the story of how/why Jesus is the Son of God. But it is Mary’s story; of how faith brought forth greater faith. And it can be our story too. We may not be called to bring forth an infant Jesus, but we can carry the news of our Lord God and Jesus Christ. That too is part of the journey of Lent.

May you, gentle reader, ponder in your heart and then tell the “glad news of deliverance”! Selah!

Fourth Sunday of Lent: The Gospel Passage – The Coming of the Light

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light- for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.” (Ephesians 5:8 – 9)

“Live as children of light” – there are so many interpretations , good interpretations, that can be made of this. The first of which is, behave yourselves. Second, believe that you are “children of light” and find comfort in that; that you are forgiven, blessed, and loved. Third, live unconcerned about what will happen to you and how you will manage, because as children of light your needs will be taken care of by the Source of All Light. I’m not sure if the writer of Ephesians, Paul, meant all that. But I do.

“Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Verses 10 – 14)

Imagine, beloved reader, everything that has been done and said will be seen. Everything! The writer of Ephesians, Paul, does not state explicitly how this happens, or at least it does not seem to be directly and openly stated. But I will.

The more shameful and sinful an action or statement is, the more the perpetrator will try to hide or disguise it. Beware, however, of those who do not try to disguise their terrible actions or statements. Flee from them! But, I start to digress. The deeper the shame and sin is hidden, the more likely our Lord God and Jesus Christ, and the gospel, is to disclose and reveal it. And when it disclosed and reveal and the perpetrator is unrepentant, the graver the consequences.

This process is part of the journey of Lent. We willingly disclose and reveal where we have gone wrong. The Divine grieves and mourns our missteps, and gives us reassurance that our repentance will be meet with Divine grace. It makes no sense, beloved reader, to hide what is shameful; it will be brought to let. Better for us to reveal it to the Divine and be in line for mercy and grace than to try to hide it.

May the Lord God’s mercy and grace be yours in abundance – greater abundance then your need! Selah!

Fourth Sunday of Lent: The Old Testament Passage – Here comes David!

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’
Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” (I Samuel 16:1 – 3)

King Saul, favored by the people. A man’s man (I assume) but not God’s man. And God is not sitting idle while King Saul is proving that he is not the type of follower that God desires. I like that the Divine says “I have provided for myself.” This tells me that the man (young boy right now) is being prepared for the role to come. It reminds me of all the prophecies about Jesus, which in a way is a sort of preparation as well. In Jesus God has provided for a Savior. He comes also from Bethlehem.

It also tells me that God is ever preparing and foreseeing what needs to happen. We do not always see or understand the movements of God. But what happens because of free will and what happens by God’ preparations and provisions come together in marvelous ways.

Samuel did what the LORD commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the LORD.” (Verses 4 – 6)

What does “Godly” look like? What does faithful and righteous look like? Saul looked “good” if my memory of his coming to kingship is accurate. As I remember the priests who served in the Lord’s house were to be without physical flaw. But good looks do not always mean good inside.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (Verse 7)

Remember too that God and Samuel warned the people that a conventional human king like the other nations have is no guarantee of good leadership.

Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.”
Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any of these.” (Verses 8 – 10)

Now notice the change, that Samuel tells Jesse that the Lord is choosing someone to be in the Lord’s direct service – or at least I assume that Samuel has not told Jesse the full reason. May be he has.

“Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” (Verses 11 – 12)

Ah! Looks do mean something. David was healthy, with dark eyes. While not a presence like his brothers, He was pleasing to the eye. And, he was in front of his brothers set apart by Samuel’s anointing.

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.” (Verse 13)

With the writer of I Samuel saying that “the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David” I have to wonder, when is one prepared to serve the Lord? Before? While there was something about David when he was anointed, it seems like after that anointing he was prepared in earnest by the Lord. And that actually gives me hope; if I feel the Lord taping me on my shoulder to say “I have something in mind for you” I should not be concerned that I am not ready. The Lord will make me ready, in ways I may not ever understand.

We continue our journey through Lent – least you forget. We prepare ourselves as the Lord makes preparations concerning us. May we follow the Lord’s path and trust in the Lord’s providence and provision. Selah!

Fourth Sunday of Lent: The Gospel Passage – There are none so blind . . .

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (John 9:1 – 3)

While Jesus’ ministry on the earth ushered in a new time of enlightenment and understanding, it still took place during a time of little understanding of nature and biology. Physical disabilities were not (and are not) a result of sin or misconduct, but that was the common believe. That is why the disciples asked that question. Jesus’ answer was not meant to be an explanation of why it happened to this man either, but the rationale for what would happen as a result of Jesus healing him. Keep that in mind as you read this story (or read it again).

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (Verse 4 – 5)

The implication is that once Jesus has departed this world, darkness may come. But, each of us can carry the light of Jesus Christ and thereby hold back the dark. But, on with the story.

“When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” (Verses 6 – 10)

While miracles and healing from disabilities is comparatively frequent and attributed to a variety of means and interventions, in the time Jesus walked the earth miracles and healing were amazing.

“He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.” (Verses 11 to 14)

That it was a Sabbath day is important to the story, and to the Pharisees. While we understand there is no better day then the Sabbath to “work” a miracle, working on the Sabbath in Jesus’ time was very much frowned on. In fact there were complex laws about what you could and could not do on the Sabbath.

“Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (Verses 15 – 23)

How typically, when something is not understood or believed, to explain it away by simply denying that it happened. Someone is cured – well, they were not that sick to begin with. In other words, the miracle is not that miraculous. It is a simple development and not a complete change in the nature of things. Beware, beloved reader, of those who would belittle those things that are marvelous, be they little or big.

“So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” (Verses 24 to 27)

How clever, this formerly blind man, to turn the table on his questioners.

“Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (Verses 28 – 33)

Again, I admire this clever man. I am not surprised however. Think how much instantaneous faith it must have taken to travel with mud covered eyes to bath them in a certain place. His eyes may not have seen but surely his heart and spirit did.

“They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out. Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.” (Verses 34 – 38)

Jesus told his disciples that this whole episode would show God’s work in human lives – the power of God and how God can be with us and within us. And he explains further . . .

“Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” (Verses 39 – 41)

The evidence of who Jesus was and what he could do – miracles – was before them. Yet they refused to see. Jesus/the writer of the gospel of John puts in more bluntly than I would; when the reality of Jesus/God is before us, and we refuse to see it or acknowledge it, that is sin. May we not sin in this way. Selah!

Third Sunday of Lent: The Psalm Passage – Comfort now, praise later

O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!” (Psalm 95: 1 – 7)

If I had sat down to write on this passage yesterday, I might have something different to say than today. If, maybe, I would wait until tomorrow I might have something different to say about this passage. But I am sitting down to write today, with all the events of today swirling around in my mind. I comfort myself by remembering that by the time you, beloved reader, read this the events of today will be the memories of last week. And more than likely I will have yet another story of the Lord God carrying me through another difficult time. But that will be then, and this is now. And the now is hard. How can I praise when it is hard?

And if Psalm 95 were all praise and worship, I would be stuck and feeling very sorry for myself. But verses one to seven is are not all the the psalmist wrote.

“Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways.” Therefore in my anger I swore, “They shall not enter my rest.” (Verses 8 – 11)

Beloved reader, do not fear for my faith, or think I am wavering in my belief. My heart has not gone astray. I have trust and faith that God will see me through, and that all will be will. It just goes back to one of my recurring questionings – how can I praise God when I feel like I am at a point in my life where petition and intercession are more of what I need? It is a relief to me, and a balm to my spirit to realize that whatever “wanderings” I have had in the desert have helped me realize several important things. First, whatever my travails might be now, I am not alone and God will see me through, Second, the psalmist makes room for times of uncertainty and sadness. Third, what is my disconcerting and dismal “now” will not ruin the ultimate good God has in store for me.

I may not be at the point of making a joyful noise to the Lord; but neither am I with out hope and comfort in God. And knowing that, I enter into the Lord God’s rest. Selah and shalom!

Third Sunday of Lent: Gospel Passage – Jesus is a “character” too!

So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:5 – 15)

The writer of the gospel of John liked to use spiritual metaphors. And this account of the Samaritan woman at the well is filled with them. I have often thought the conversation as it is recorded between the two of them is rather stilted. It seems rather pulled and stretched to encompass the spiritual motifs; water, thirst, and the quenching of the spirit and inner life of humanity. Not exactly casual conversation.

“Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” (Verses 16 – 26)

And throughout much of the conversation the Samaritan woman is placed at a disadvantage, speaking plainly without allusions while Jesus is speaking in allusions, metaphors and analogies. It seems very uneven. And yet, it contains a good bit of theology and foundational Christian faith. And Jesus in so plain and direct in identifying who he is. I am not sure he was a direct with his disciples. It is at this point they return and effectively put a stop to this conversation.

“Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.” (Verses 27 – 30)

While the people of the city were making their way to see Jesus, Jesus and his disciples are having some interesting conversation themselves.

“Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (Verses 31 – 38)

By now the disciples might have been completely bewildered. Jesus talking to a woman – a Samaritan woman at that! Refusing food! Talking about sowing and harvesting when they had never harrowed the ground to plant and had no seeds to plant into the earth. What did Jesus think they would harvest, they may have wondered. For the literal minded, it is an unusual passage. Yet the writer of John tells us . . .

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” (Verses 38 – 42)

Verse 42, I think, is the payoff verse. Jesus has been identified as the Savior of the world. Belief is spreading throughout the countryside. And not just among the Jews.

During this season of Lent we are journeying toward the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry on the earth. It is not enough that just one type of people belief. Believe in Jesus Christ is for all people. Those who are plain talkers, and those who talk in metaphor, analogy & allusions. This is one of the things I became aware of several years ago, that Jesus Christ and the Lord God have aspects and traits that call all to all sorts of people. We cannot nearly define what a Christian should be like. We can talk about authentic Christianity, but not about a narrow set of beliefs.

Every Christian journeys through Lent, whether they call it such or not. We all times of pondering and contemplating our faith. It is not done just in the weeks before Easter but at all times of the Christian year. Jesus comes to us in the form and aspect that we need the Divine in. These are some of the truths about Lent. Shalom!

Third Sunday of Lent: Epistles Passage – I am a “character”!

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but 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 5:1-5)

I can’t help but think of my own situation, beloved reader. Yes, things are better than last time I talked about this. But my situation is the same – job ending and I am not sure what I will do next for a job. It is not suffering, because I will not be destitute. But it will call forth endurance, and no doubt many of my characteristics (for good or for bad) will come forth. I think what is meant here is “good” character – positive traits and attributes. Because those things, the writer of Romans says, produces hope.

I will admit, freely admit, that I have struggled to understand this progression – from endurance to character and character to hope. How can one trait, I ponder, lead to another? And I have finally come to the simple answer, in the midst of my current struggles . . . . it simply does! I don’t know what the weeks will bring. In fact, as you read this, I am going through my second day of unemployment. And while I am writing this, I have idea what my next job will be. But I do have hope that there will be a “next job” for me. And that I am still within the Lord’s plan for me. If that is character that has resulted in hope, it must have happened while I was sleeping!

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Verses 6 – 11)

After that realization, I just sort of drift through the verse six to eleven, still back at verse four and five, thinking “this hope I have that has not basis or foundation comes from years of simply holding tight to the Lord and living out my faith.”!

Yes, the Lord Jesus died for me, a sinner and that was amazing. And yes, I am saved. And yes, I am reconciled to “God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Yes, to all those things. But character tested and refined leads to hope, the hope that I have that all will be well. Don’t know how, just know that it will be. Selah!