Normally Romans is not one of my favorite books in the New Testament, I reserve that for the books of John, Hebrews, and Revelation. Yet a few weeks ago I was reading in the book of Romans, and I was struck by the following:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
I love Moroni’s discourse on faith, hope and charity, but somehow this statement by Paul is just as touching. I never noticed experience after patience before. And then there is hope. What is it about experience that brings hope into our lives, and what is it about patience that brings experience? If everything were easy, as often times we want, then would we really learn patience that brings experience and ultimately hope?
So many times I have put down my own trials as not significant because I see so much suffering among others I love. I see their lives as so much harder. But in doing so, do I discount what I learn from my own sorrow and tribulation? Perhaps they see life much the same way?
I remember being in nursing school, single, taking 20 + credits a semester. Life was busy, but I just had me to worry about. There were married women, some divorced, all trying to carry the burden of raising a family at the same time they were going through school. I was amazed at how they did it; I was sure I could not do the same. One of them said to me: ” I do not know how you do it.” I was one of the few freshmen in the class, not only taking the nursing classes, but also doing the prerequisite courses that the others had already completed to get into the program. (Going into the program right out of high school, those courses had to been done at the same time as the nursing classes.) I was also doing the required classes for my music scholarship, and institute classes. I was busy but I thought to myself, “I just have to worry about feeding me; I do not have to worry about feeding a family, or doing laundry for more than myself.” I thought I had it easy.
Those of us on either side of the fence thought it was harder for the other. I think we were in awe of what the other was doing. Did that mean that we learned patience? What about experience? I know that, of the things I have learned, I am not sure I have learned to completely appreciate my trials. I am not one of those that can say “I am glad I have gone through them.” There are many that I wish I did not have to go through, and I never want to walk through those refining fires again. They about did me in. Am I stronger for them? I honestly do not know. Am I better for them? Probably.
Hopefully I am more understanding and more forgiving than I was 20 years ago. I felt I learned something as I pondered this section of scripture. I learned something new, a new dimension to a favorite theme. I feel as if I have seen a harmonic chord rather than hearing it. I think this chapter deserves more time and pondering on my part. It has been a while since a scripture has touched me like that.
Learning is not always easy, but I enjoy it when it comes. So Paul, thank you for your discourse; I needed to be reminded of the grace given to all of us, and that all things are taught in time and in order, one little baby step at a time.
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