Before I got sick I posted about what God was saying to me through Romans 5:1-5. I skipped through the passage and picked out the word character. I even mentioned it in a sermon. The last several years when we have been about to go through a tough time God has given me a scripture verse to hold onto. This has been no exception. I went back and read this passage in Romans again. Here it is in case you are like me and will forget to look it up.
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
The portion in bold is the portion I skipped over to a degree. My thought at the time was, "well I haven't really suffered much but suffering is relative." I thought the key was learning perseverance so that God could work on developing a more Christlike character in me. I still believe that is what He is doing only I don't get to skip any of the hard parts.
As I was praying about that yesterday I wondered why God would be so concerned with my character if (and this is worst case, I was just thinking not borrowing trouble) I wasn't going to live long. It is a morbid thought but don't get caught up on it. I really felt that if God is working in this situation, and we know He is, and if God is producing a more Christlike character in me, and I believe that is what He is doing, (there's a whole Romans 8:28 thing) then I have unfinished work to do for the kingdom. As I was thinking that thought I heard that voice, the Holy Spirit, ( I haven't heard much of it lately so it was wonderful) say two words. I was thinking about the fact that God must not be finished with me if He would be working in this situation to produce character in me, the two words I heard in my Spirit were, that's hope! I have this hope in my heart. Hope is a powerful thing. And let me remind you of Romans 5:5 again " And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."