Hemmed in but not held back.

When he established the heavens, I was there, …I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
Proverbs 8:27‭-‬31 NRSV

https://bible.com/bible/2016/pro.8.27-31.NRSV

Tiny but perfect moth on a Sage Bush.

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 NRSV https://bible.com/bible/2016/rom.5.1-5.NRSV

This is about persecution. It is also about a work of the Spirit. First of all the work of Christ is to bring us peace. Further we are made like him and this our boast, through grace we become like Christ. He became human that we might be glorified, brought into the heavenly council.

What is the suffering here? I am not sure it can include anything other than the suffering of persecution, the sense of being hemmed in, an inner feeling. Overcoming this in the spirit produces fruit, as we learn to trust in the face of tribulation. This happens as we open our hearts to God’s love and are made able to stand.

It worries me if we are to include all suffering here, as the verse becomes a burden for those who suffer abuse, torment or physical ailments. I do not believe we are called to put up with such suffering, let alone boast about it, or think that God somehow is using it to form our character. However, when we feel hemmed in by persecution, then I think God helps us overcome that inner suffering to produce endurance, perseverance and hope.

Jesus warns us that being a follower of the Way will be hard and the promise here is that we can stand when people bring all manner of accusations against us.

The key for me is God pouring his love into our hearts, in the midst of our disappointment, to sow hope and form character.

God is good and it would not in my opinion be a good thing for God to inflict us to build character. It is good however to help us stand when we are attacked. We must not allow God’s word to become the doorway to abusers who would encourage you to put up with “it” as it’s good for you. That’s coercive . If anyone is ill or afflicted I would be wrong to say, just put up with it, it’s making you a better person. That’s cruel and lacks compassion.

God is with us and for us. We are called to stand with the afflicted and seek their good, to stand with the marginalised. When it all goes wrong and we are misunderstood, or we lose everything and suffer injustice, so that our hearts are bursting with hurt, then God pours in his love and the weakness becomes God’s strength and we’re not held back.

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