I have been pondering this Bible passage a lot lately. Since the truth in it seems more evident than ever. Specifically verse three, which states "suffering produces endurance." I say this because our current culture sees no value in suffering, and will go out of its way to avoid suffering, especially when it comes to our children. The result of this is quite evident; we have a generation of people who have little endurance. So they lack the ability to tolerate anything outside their tiny zone of comfort, or accomplish anything significant.
It gets even more interesting in verse four where it says "perseverance produces character." Public schools used to be in the business of instilling character in our children. Now, they have shifted the focus to social justice. While that may seem like an insignificant detail, and these kids may say they want equality for everyone. However, without character, they lack the desire to get directly involved in creating social justice. They will protest and complain, but no further. So all they are doing is pushing that responsibility onto others. They expect everyone else to fix things for them.
The notion closes with “character produces hope.” There is no denying that hope is on a rapid decline. But that shouldn’t be a surprise since we have sabotaged everything that leads to genuine hope. An internal hope that stems from being a strong and righteous person, instead of forcing the outside world to revolve around our fragile feelings.
Let me elaborate. A Christian college in my area still operates on the mantra of “character begins with denying self.” Which flies in the face of our self-indulgent society. A culture that seems more dissatisfied than ever, ironically enough. But that begs the question, is a self-indulgent culture really interested in social justice, as in everyone. Or only as far as it effects them and their tiny comfort zone.
Here is another example; this social justice generation is supposed to be all about volunteering. While they may say that in these polls we keep hearing about, I have a hard time finding real world evidence of it. I know someone who works in a nursing home, and according to them, all these new nurses lack empathy. They are in a job where they are paid help people in need. Yet, they don't even treat the residents as people. They are too self-absorbed to even notice the need, let alone address it without being specifically told. I said this to someone who was in a different nursing home at the time, he affirmed he had experience that first hand.
While the Bible tells us that suffering produces endurance, we are called to help people through it, not be the cause of it. Meaning it’s fruitless to criticize the weak for being weak. It’s pointless to instruct people to shun their pain, and run away from their suffering. This damage that has been inflicted upon the world because of this avoidance runs deep. We will have to do a lot more than complain and protest ourselves to counteract this harm. We will have to set a good example and get involved. We will have to get at the heart of and address the issue, and not just ridicule the symptoms as we have been.
The Visual PARABLEist
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“In this religious world, those who refuse to take burdens upon them are comparatively little use. Their chief anxiety is to be fed; and they become in time so fastidious that they reject both the milk and meat of the gospel, and demand sweetmeats that spoil the appetite and ruin the health. They are vacillating and unsteady. They seldom hold out. They are driven to and fro by every wind of doctrine and cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. They will try church after church in its turn, but no church benefits them, and they do harm wherever they go. They genuinely end by turning away from the truth, and turning to fables.
Then do not be afraid of burdens that God in his providence would lay upon you. It will, in the long run, be much easier to bear them than shirk them. By taking them cheerfully for Jesus’ sake, and doing the best you can, you will benefit yourself as much as you do others. Strength is gathered by action. “
-B.T. Roberts, founder of the Free-Methodist church