Sunday, October 12, 2008

Process - Oriented

"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: 3-5 (NIV)

Peace and blessings,

A month ago my pastor preached a message from this passage, and the focus was on what it means to have hope for Christians. Although I've read the passage before, this time it's like I saw it in a different light. Whereas in the past I interpreted this passage as encouragement during difficult times, now i interpreted it as describing a developmental process that we experience through in life, the outcome of which depends on the choices we make at each stage. In addition to it being a developmental process, In some way I think it is a reoccurring process as well. Reoccurring in the sense that I think that we constantly developing in the areas addressed in this passage, and the choices we make during these processes determine the extent of our growth in a particular area.

The process described in the above passage is as follows: suffering - perseverance - character - hope.

My interpretation of this process is the following: problem - persistence - purpose - and perspective. When we are faced with a problem, we have a choice to dwell on it and let it be the reason that we remain in the state or situation that we are in, or to work to solve and overcome it. Next, we are faced with two choices that determine whether or not we really want to address the problem. We can either persist until we overcome the problem, or we can persist for a while and then throw in the towel, succumbing to whatever it is trying to hold us back. Next there is the purpose aspect of the process, where our choices determine the character traits that we will make salient and strengthen in the midst of the problem we are facing. We can either sharpen traits that will strengthen our character, or we can feed those traits that dampen our character. Lastly, we come to a point where we must choose how we want this experience to contribute to how we will view similar problems we may face in the future. We can take on a more negative perspective and view future obstacles primarily as burdens, or we can take a more positive perspective and view these same obstacles as opportunities for personal and spiritual growth.

I'm not justifying the existence of all problems on the basis that we can benefit from them. I truly believe that there are some problems that are "placed" on us and that we place on ourselves, that should have never existed. However, Jesus teaches us that we will face trials, and thus we need to be prepared. How we handle our problems influences who we become, and who we become influences how we view the world and our relation to it.

What do you think? Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

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