“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” —Romans 5:2b-5
I had the opportunity the other day to go to a lunch with other church members. As we settled down at the patio table on the wooden deck, surrounded by thick woods on a cliff above a river, I felt we were in a tiny slice of heaven.
I learned from our host about the smoked ribs that lay on my plate. He had spent hours seasoning, heating, smoking, and cooking them. Each spicy bite was a labor of love, as he had spent the better part of a day preparing them for us. Having made ribs myself, I understood the commitment of this form of cooking. No immediate gratification here—-only slow, laborious, low-heat cooking. That is what was needed for the meat to be so tender it fell off the bone.
As my daughter and I talked to three other ladies at our table, I was intrigued by the stories they told. One snowy-haired 85-year-old lady described her life of ups and downs, and as she shared stories of navigating husbands, two marriages, raising children, health issues, and widowhood, I couldn’t help but sense her resiliency in life, the ability to take the lumps and move forward. With a bright smile and dancing blue eyes, she told of her travels around the world, involvement in many facets of church, and her contentment with being alone. She had obviously been through a lot in her eighty-five years, but had a very positive outlook on life. Other stories flowed about college sweethearts, living with physical pain, and helping the younger generation grow up.
These ladies spoke of lives of trials, joys, suffering, and faith. Each story showed increased resiliency—an ability to stand strong and continue on. I like Paul’s words to the Romans (above), because it reminds me that God isn’t finished with us yet. As we are faced with life experience, great things are happening inside of us—-we are growing in perseverance, character, and hope. These things do not happen quickly, they take a life-time. Slowly, month by month, year by year, with a loving God, we are transformed. Slow, low heat makes delicious ribs. Slow, steady life experiences and faith makes us more like Christ. We can live in hope because it has been cultivated in us.
What a gift for my daughter to hear these wise women talk about their lives. What a gift for me, too. As we cultivate resiliency in our own lives, let’s share the hope we have with the current and next generation. They need to hear it. And so do we.
Prayer–“Gracious Lord, thank you for the gift of older people who can share their lives with us. I pray I may hear their wisdom and help me grow in perseverance, character, and hope, so that I can share it with others. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”