Don’t you just love Saint Paul? I love his letters. They are filled with such passion and such excitement and such relevance. That something written 2000 years ago could have such applicability to our lives today is a miracle in itself.
Today Saint Paul talks of suffering and hope. His letter to the Romans begins with the explanation that their suffering is nothing compared to that which awaits us in Heaven. I have only had a few times in my life when I can say I was truly suffering. And when I was really in anguish, the only thing that helped was to have hope. Hope that the pain would pass, hope that it would help me to grow, hope that it would make me stronger, hope that my suffering would be temporary, hope that I would be whole again.
Saint Paul gives us hope for the eternal. He says that it is in hope we were saved, and with hope comes endurance. And isn’t that what we need when we are suffering? We need to endure the experience, not wish it away.
My background is in psychology. In cognitive developmental theory there is a notion that growth comes from distress or dissonance. When we experience cognitive disconnect we are forced to reconcile our beliefs with reality and grow in our understanding.
And so in a similar way, when our hearts experience dissonance, distress, suffering, we need to endure it, reconcile ourselves with the reality or the heartbreak, and endure the suffering with the confidence that “in hope we are saved.” (Romans 8:24)
So have hope, sweet sister. You are not alone. Your suffering is not eternal. You will come out of any darkness as long as you keep moving towards to the light with hope in your heart.
MaryRuth Hackett is Director of Operations for Blessed is She. She loves historical fiction, dark chocolate, watching her children play soccer, a good cup of coffee (decaf please) and the quiet of the early morning. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and has a passion for helping parents understand the way their children grow and develop. You can find out more about her here.