Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
— Romans 5:1-5
M. Scott Peck began his monumental book on Spirituality and Psychology, The Road Less Traveled by observing, “Life is difficult.” He went on to say “Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
It seems hardly worth saying that these are tough times. Whether you are worried about the health concerns of Covid-19, or worried about the economic challenges that have developed, or worried about family and friends facing racial injustice, or uncertain how to respond to the issues of the day, these are difficult times. The thing is, they become less difficult when we realize that they are difficult. We become less anxious about how we appear and how we are perceived when we admit that we don’t know what it all means. We become more able to face the challenges when we know they are challenges. So long as we try to hold tightly to an illusion of reality that is passing away, so long as we demand that things go back to normal, so long as we dig our heels in defying the challenge of the moment, we find ourselves anxious, worried, and weak. When we admit our need for one another, when we call to God for strength, when we commit ourselves to the values of our faith — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — then we can move forward.
The times of struggle, these days of challenge will produce endurance, and endurance will produce character, and character will produce hope. We hope for the world yet to be; the world where justice rolls down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream; the world where brothers and sisters dwell in unity; the world where all say ‘it is good to go to the house of the Lord.’ We are not there yet, but once we admit that we are not there can begin the journey.
Lift Every Voice and Sing
Lift ev'ry voice and sing
'Til earth and heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list'ning skies
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on 'til victory is won
Dear God, please give me strength when I am weak, love when I feel forsaken, courage when I am afraid, wisdom when I feel foolish, comfort when I am alone, hope when I feel rejected, and peace when I am in turmoil. Amen.