You Are Invited
“Not only that, but 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 5:3-5 (ESV)
The front of my refrigerator is covered with invitations. One to a baby shower. Another to a wedding. One to a birthday party. While I may not be able to attend all of these, I love that someone thought of me as they prepared their special event.
I received another invitation recently. It isn’t posted on my refrigerator. It isn’t marked in my calendar. Attending seems inevitable and I don’t want to go, yet I know there’s Someone thinking of me in it.
Twenty-five years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a difficult period, but there were gems that emerged. I discovered the value of friendship. I learned what mattered and what didn’t. People became central. Christ was my rock.
Recently, I learned my daughter has breast cancer. When I heard the news, I was on the way to the airport. I found a solitary stall in the bathroom and wept until I was empty.
Not again, Lord.
Though I will always be grateful for what I learned during that incredibly hard time, the last thing any mom wants is for her child to go through a trial.
I found comfort in Romans 5, our key verse.
In this text, the apostle Paul is issuing an invitation to the Roman church. If you read it on the surface, the invitation seems to be to suffering, but it’s not. It’s actually an invitation to experience the joy of faith in a trial.
Suffering produces endurance.
Paul doesn’t dismiss the reality of suffering, but he reminds us that we can become strong through suffering. Two decades ago, I had no idea of the strong woman who lived in me, but God did. As I sat next to my daughter in the waiting room, I wrapped my arms around her, but she was also wrapped in the arms of her Heavenly Father. She’s strong already, and her faith is the reason. As she goes through this trial, she’ll discover even more about the woman God created her to be.
Endurance produces character.
This gift of character is priceless. It’s honed in the rocky places. It becomes who we are and who God knows us to be. It transcends beyond the trial, showing up in the form of wisdom, insight and courage.
Character produces hope.
Hope in Jesus becomes our focal point as we walk with Him through the suffering. As I go through this with my daughter, it feels odd to be on the other side. I revisited every emotion I once felt, but they seem weightier because my sweet girl is experiencing her own emotions.
One thing I know for certain is there are tender lessons ahead as she and Jesus walk through this together. I pray she’ll see the hope of her faith in a new light, because that’s what we are promised in unexpected trials.
God’s love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us.
What held me up 25 years ago remains true today. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He loves me. He loves you. His love is poured over us in abundance when we are in a trial.
What is the invitation in our trial?
This new journey with my daughter has created new invitations on my refrigerator and in my calendar: pick up the grandkids, surgery on this day, pray for our daughter on that day.
Yet the real invitation can only be found in the words nestled in this mama’s heart and prayed over that of my beautiful daughter: We can rejoice, even in the hard places, for God’s love will carry us through.
I will respond to that invitation and place my trust in the Lord.
Heavenly Father, I didn’t ask for this, and I don’t want to be here, but I know this to be true: You are with me and those I love. You are my Rock, my Shield and in You I am secure. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 26:4, “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” (NIV)
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
We often see the trial as the focal point, but what is the invitation within? My invitation in this new journey with my daughter is to trust God and to love my daughter tangibly. I can say yes to both of those.
What can you say yes to in your trial?