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We don’t choose our circumstances, but we do choose how we respond. In the last few weeks our lives have changed in ways few could have imagined. It’s hard to make sense of all that’s happened. We’ve been left anxious and afraid. Disappointed and sad. Isolated and alone. It would be easy to despair.
But faith needs to work in bad times as well as good. That’s why we’re all looking for answers. How can we make sense of what’s happening? Where can we find hope for the future? And is it even possible for good to come from all this bad news?
St. Paul did not live an easy life (2 Cor. 11:24-31). Among other hardships, on more than one occasion he was arrested and put in prison. Experts tell us he spent as long as five and a half years in custody. Paul never called his hardships good, but he also didn’t find them meaningless.
Paul had a vision for life that was robust enough to find meaning even in suffering. On multiple occasions he pointed out how God was often at his creative best in bringing good out of very trying circumstances. But he did more than simply promise, “you’ll get through this.” In fact, he said, “you’ll do more than get through this; you’ll grow through this.” His was a faith that works. A faith that helps us navigate our way through whatever comes our way.
Paul learned from his suffering. His struggles clarified his understanding of and confidence in God. He grew to be a stronger and better person from his hardships. And he found purpose in life that motivated him to work hard at the things God gave him to do. In the end he found a contentment and joy that transcended circumstances.