Voices of Religion: The forecast you have been waiting for is here

Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010

With the talk of 30 something straight days of rain during our "summer" and winter just around the corner it is pretty easy to slip into a state of despair of what lies ahead - and that's just about WEATHER!

We all face "ups and downs" in the seasons of life and it is often easy to get stuck in a "forecast of despair" based on life's circumstances.

Failure, disappointment, trauma and suffering in varying degrees face us all and one's outlook on these setbacks shapes our character and growth.

While most of us would love for all our tough things in life to disappear (like the storms and rain!), would this really be a good idea? Could even our hardships help us reach the fullest level of development and growth in life?

Now I am not one to look for hard times, but from my experience, the storms in my life have given me an appreciation of what is important.

Philosopher Robert Roberts describes three attitudes we can hold about the future: despair, resignation and hope. Despair can swirl us to many deep pits. Resignation can bounce us all around. Hope can help us see that there is a bright future ahead.

As one goes through life eventually there will be a crisis or "storms" and circumstances can get crazy: sickness, financial crisis, rejection, death, scandal, etc. The big question that looms is "What can I build my life on that circumstances cannot rob me of?"

In the Bible, Paul was not a stranger to suffering and he found the key to lasting hope and growth by living in the flow of the Spirit. He discovered that even in his suffering he could grow and encourage others. Paul wrote these words to a group of people who were facing a bad forecast:

"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 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 5:2b-5)

This scripture passage begins with the understanding that in a personal relationship with God one can experience the ultimate security in life - for the present and for the future.

Instead of receiving judgement or vengeance, we are graced with the sheer undeserved kindness of God.

Therefore we can weather the storms because the "hope" Paul celebrates is grounded in this lasting relationship which can help sustain us through hard times.

In fact, even in the times of suffering, God shows up and blesses us with perseverance, which develops our character and gives us hope! Our "sufferings" (v.3) or troubles can drive us to triumph instead of despair.

One person can be overwhelmed and see no hope, while someone connected to Jesus going through crisis can emerge with Hope! So remember the forecast calls for .... HOPE!!!!!!

Frank Alito serves as the Pastor at the River Convenant Church on 705 Frontage Road in Kenai. He is also the chaplain for Central Emergency Services.

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