We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
Sometimes I reflect on the loss of Jana and I wonder how I am able to go on. I am amazed that, at this point, I am integrating back into life, finding new things about myself, and experiencing a deeper understanding of God and His ways. My faith is deepening as it is being tested.
In affliction, the idea is not to persevere by doing everything perfect, it’s to look to God, in faith, through our helplessness. I can’t perfectly navigate the death of my spouse. I make mistakes, I am full of failures…but, my faith points me elsewhere. Faith focuses on the Lord and His power to see me through.
Proven character has been tried and is now authentic, or genuine. When one perseveres through the affliction – faith becomes real. Faith existed before the trial, but it is the enduring of the trial that brings about this strong, tested faith.
Doubt creeps in, though, when given the chance. It’s easy to doubt. I believe in the marvelous grace extended by God, through Jesus. This grace is not dependent on anything that I have done, it is what Jesus has done. At times I can slip into thinking that I hope Jana was “good enough”, or that I am “good enough” to go to heaven when I die. The fact is, it has nothing to do with being “good”, and everything to do with being forgiven! Doubt is a slippery thing and can lead a person away from authentic faith if not arrested with truth. (Please check this link out if you have questions about this relationship with Jesus.)
The standard mini-definition of character is, “who you are when you are alone.” I am seeing my alone times become increasingly significant in my personal life and my walk with the Lord. I am getting used to alone, it is not a bad time. True, it can be deafeningly quiet…but, this usually leads to great work in my thought life and spiritual life. I pray for endurance and the character-building that follows.
God, thank you for working in my life. Thank you for taking care of Jana, Lord you love her even more than I do. Dear God, I pray for endurance. I pray for character. Amen.