A Bear in the Woods

St. Paul said in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.”  These words have brought great comfort to many people, especially in times when all they could think about was the ordeal they happened to be experiencing.  In a simple sentence, Paul awakens something within us that possesses the power to increase our endurance.

During times of challenge and struggle, human nature generally leads us to choose one of two options: fight or flight.  We either mount our best energies to take on the challenge before us or we run away to avoid the challenge altogether.  Different people approach these situations differently.  Some are more naturally fighter types; others are natural flyers. Depending upon the challenge, though, either of these options may be the best response to the challenge. Likewise, either of these responses may be the worst thing to do.

For example, wildlife experts advise when accidentally coming upon a bear in the woods, even though our natural instinct says run for the hills, that response is the one most likely to get us killed by a bear. Even if we’re a person with a flyer type personality, the experts say our best option for survival when confronting a bear in the woods is to make ourselves appear as large as we can and to make ourselves as loud as possible, standing our ground as though ready to fight. There’s no guarantee the bear will back down and let us win the game, but under the circumstances we’ve significantly raised the odds of survival in our favor by not running away.

Even though human nature seems hard-wired to these two responses in the face of challenges, St. Paul reminds us that our human nature is not all we have to work with in difficult situations. He reminds us that those who have faith, also have hope, and hope changes how we respond to life. For hope expects a “revealing” that changes how we even look at challenges, assuming we survive them.

It is as though the accidental encounter with a bear in the woods awakens within us courage, something we never knew we had, a self-assuredness that does not feel like us, an enlightenment and freedom that we would never have known had it not been for the bear. This is the power of hope in the face of suffering, the power of faith in the circumstance of challenge, and the power of a confident voice founded in the gospel that makes us able to endure and take on a forest full of bears.

As we come to the end of another month of challenge during the Covid19 pandemic, I encourage you to stand in your faith, to stand in the hope it inspires and to look for the revealing of God’s power and purpose in your life right here in the middle of your ordeal. You may discover something in yourself that would have been impossible to see without the challenges of these times.

Stay connected! Stay wise! Stay Safe! Stay Well!

Pastor Frank