Commentary by Michael Vandenberg
The old joke throughout Indiana and much of the Midwest is, “there are only two seasons here, winter and construction”. Where I live off 82nd street, this has actually become a reality.
How many of us feel as though in our own personal lives we are feeling that there are only two seasons; winter or construction and neither of them seems preferable to the other? Do you feel as though you are stuck in the dark, cold, dreariness of winter depression? Do you feel as though life is one long battle for survival and you don’t seem to be on the winning side? Do you feel as though you are frozen into worn out patterns of living and just can’t seem to find a way out; no choices, no chances? Or perhaps you feel as though you have been in a constant rebuilding season, with what seems like one step forward in progress but then two steps back.
Whichever way you might feel right now, I want you to know that there is hope. Not the kind of hope that wishes things would be different, but the kind of hope that knows things can and will be different because those who have traveled before us have shown us a path that leads to the warm sunshine of summer, the fresh air of a new spring of living. In a letter to the fledgling church in Rome the Apostle Paul said “We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope.”
Boasting of troubles? What a strange thing to say for someone who was thrown into prison for their faith, himself had been one who persecuted Christians before he became a believer and one who was on the outside for most of his life. Troubles; Paul had them in spades and just like C.S. Lewis once said of his fictitious Narnia, “a place where is it always winter and never Christmas…”, sometimes our lives seem to echo that sentiment.
But the Apostle Paul, having lived through the cold of winter, but keeping his eye on the fresh air of a redeemed “spring”, could also say with hope (confidence), those very troubles can produce endurance and endurance brings approval from God and His approval creates within us HOPE. A fellow pastor friend of mine use to say it this way; “Tough times never last, but tough people do”. In other words, there is no trouble on earth that can or has lasted forever, but people who endure, find approval from God and outlast the trouble that seemed to want to ensnare them.
If you are looking to find that “TOUGH” faith that produces hope, why not visit a local church and ask them how this Sunday.