Growing up, when my siblings and I would complain about something difficult, our mother would frequently respond: “It’s good for you. It’s character building.”
And, as you might expect, I now hear myself saying the same thing to my children. But I say it because I now know it to be true. Adversity strengthens us. Iron sharpens iron. All the strong people, all the brave people, all the Godly people that I know have experienced pain, loss, and suffering.
As the second reading tells us today, we must embrace these moments of pain, for the pain helps us build endurance, and the endurance gives us character, and people with character have hope. And hope does not disappoint (Rom 5: 3-5).
And what is hope? Hope is the realization that our God delights in us (Prv 8:31), that he made the entire beautiful world just for us (Ps 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9), that he loves each one of us enough to die a horrible death on the cross and then rise again in glory. Hope is the belief that he who cares deeply about our need for support and help, who gives us the Holy Spirit, has never failed to deliver on his promises. We place our hope in HIM whose healing embrace awaits us in heaven where our pain will be no more. Hope does not disappoint.
When you encounter pain today, which you will, remember the words of St. Paul. Ask the Lord to help you embrace your trial so that this adversity will build up your hope in the eternal home that awaits each of us.
And when your children complain, quote St. Paul to them: “It’s good for you. It’s character building.”
After all, St. Paul probably got it from his mom. “It’s character building, Paul.” And like any normal child, it took Paul awhile to realize that his mom was right all along.