Not only so but we 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 give us.

-Romans 5:3-5

I came across this familiar Scripture yesterday while reading through a Bible Study I am doing. “This is it,” I thought, “this is how I want to live my life.” This year has felt so full of suffering. The loss of three beloved family members in just 10 short months feels more than a little hard to take sometimes. It is easy to fall into the trap of questioning, but those questions have no satisfying answers. We live in a fallen world, and things happen that I don’t understand, but I know that as much as my heart breaks at the loss of my family members, so much more so does God’s. When I think of God as my Father, and when I think of Him as the Creator of these people I love so dearly, I realize that He weeps as well for their loss. That helps, but the perspective I’ve gained is contained in that verse above. I may suffer here, but I do want to take joy in that suffering because in the end, it produces a greater hope in my Savior, a greater hope that this world is not the one I was created for and that I will not languish here forever. I want to cling to that hope. I want to allow this pain to have meaning, to allow it to draw me closer to Christ, and as I read that verse last night I realized that it had.

I lived such an idyllic existence before. I had over 60 close family members and not a single one had passed away in the 28 years that I had lived. We vacationed together every year, spending up to three weeks in a tiny cottage on the Cape that only has beds for 13 but regularly sleeps closer to 30. Our collective pain as a family was limited, we had not yet lost anyone close. In this life, I was never forced to cling to Christ. I loved Him, I knew Him, I put my trust in Him, but there was a part of me that still felt that I was in control. That all changed on the 13th of April, and I think it took months for the shock to wear off, just in time for my aunt to pass away as well. In those months however, I have learned so much about the one I call my Savior. Would I have preferred to learn it a different way? Absolutely, but given the circumstances, I am grateful for the lesson.

Update – Just a few hours after I posted these words, my grandmother passed away. Even more so, I cling to the hope that is found in Christ.