Read Romans 5:1-11 —Romans 5:3-5 (NRSV)

We…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.

When I dig a seashell out of the sand, I first turn it one way and then the other to see its condition. Does it have chips or cracks or is it whole and complete? I am looking for a perfect shell—not a broken one. Often, we are content only with the perfect, the unblemished, the new.

That is not the way with God, who understands that we are broken, imperfect, damaged—and still seeks us. The scripture for today shows us that we humans are like the imperfect shell. We journey through an ocean filled with rocks and reefs and storms, and none of us makes it to shore without scars of suffering and endurance.

At times we may feel disappointed or ashamed at our brokenness. But in our suffering we are being made strong. And that strength will develop character that clings to hope. Our hope is not in circumstances, people or even ourselves, but in the powerful and loving God who will never let us be crushed or lost in the storm. God can transform our stories of suffering into a beautiful strength of character that produces hope that will never disappoint us.

Prayer—Dear God, give us strength to withstand the storms we encounter. Help us to cling to you in hope. Amen.

Thought for the Day—God can transform my suffering into strength.

Amy B. Trent (California)