By Vitor Seiber
Emotions of all kinds have run high since the beginning of COVID in 2020 and as we are coming to the end of 2021, things have become worse. We find ourselves navigating through all kinds of negativity that seems to flood the environment around us. To fight these things in my personal life, I like to believe that each morning I equip myself with the armor of God, but who hasn’t arrived at work and suddenly realized you forgot to put your belt of salvation on before leaving the house?
As I approach the end of 2021, tensions at work continue to increase as usual. And with each day that passes, I find myself slipping further and further into my own understanding of the world. First, I am focusing on our poor leadership, then the department’s failure to meet our annual goals, and slowly these thoughts have manifested into doubt over my life decisions and where I am heading. It’s alarming to see how quickly our negative thoughts gain momentum; like a runaway train! If you’ve ever had a similar chain of thought, then we’ve experienced a form of suffering together.
When we are in distress it’s important to vent, and in my case, I chose to vent with my wonderful wife. During our discussion, she shared with me the word of the day, Romans 5:3-4 “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”. Initially, I heard the word, but I was too stubborn to receive it. I’ve read this verse so many times before. “I need a better verse than this one, trust me,” I told God. I’m just supposed to be happy in my struggles? How does that make sense?
The following day the Holy Spirit brought me to Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Suddenly it all hit me like a ton of bricks. In a split second, I found myself interpreting the Word from a new perspective. Hope is the product of suffering, i.e., one cannot know how to hope without experiencing hardship; and the absence of hope restricts the assurance of faith.
Following my thoughts further, I began to think of the potter and the clay but soon realized the trade is too delicate to relate to how I was feeling that week. My thoughts then turned to a blacksmith tempering steel, which led me to write the following:
“Rejoice in times of struggle; like the anvil to iron, our characters are being forged under fire”
The prefix “re” in the word “rejoice” is a Latin term used to indicate repetition. As much as we want to believe all this hard work on earth ends in life without suffering, it doesn’t. We must repeatedly find joy when faced with trials; without it, we would never know what to hope for. Imagine where we would be if the Apostle Paul never found joy during his imprisonment?
And just like that, all negativity and doubt were quenched in an instant!