Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)
We don't know exactly what the Pilgrims were reading and reflecting on in the years leading up to and during their journey across the Atlantic to the New World, or what they read in those first few months in Plymouth Plantation. However, this passage from Paul's Letter to the Romans must have been on their minds at least at some point.
Four hundred years later, its meaning is as vital for us as it was for them. One could 'tell back' in a variety of ways. Here's my attempt:
Our suffering has meaning, by God's grace and His plan.
The virtues of endurance, character, and hope are integral to our relationships with God and people.
We are invited to rejoice in the hope and peace that we have in Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit communicates His love through the hope that does not bring us shame.
In this season of Thanksgiving and that of Christmas soon to follow is a natural time to remind ourselves and our families of that enduring hope that we have in Christ. It is also a time to not try to simply stop or ignore hardship and suffering but to be patient, even curious, with what God might be teaching us about Himself and His people through it.
As always, these kinds of lessons are the ones that probably will matter the most for our children and students. They may forget many of the academic 'facts' of the grade in which they are in right now. The person that they are becoming this year, however, will be the stepping stone to the rest of their lives.
A deepening sense of gratitude, a renewed hope in the grace and love of God, and a commitment to endure suffering well together with loved ones are some master habits/relationships that we can all grow in over the next couple of months.
Here's to living and growing together!