August 30, 2017: Boasting In Our Affliction

~by Louis Templeman


Boasting in our affliction? This is what St. Paul wrote? Was he crazy?

Brothers and sisters:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through whom we have gained access by faith

to this grace in which we stand,

and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions,

knowing that affliction produces endurance,

and endurance, proven character,

and proven character, hope,

and hope does not disappoint,

because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts

through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. – Romans 5:1-5

Affliction, suffering and such apparent negatives are signposts for us while we press on through this difficult road we call life. Saint Paul saw them as encouragement not as frustration. Afflictions should be seen as signposts, not as roadblocks. Some signs on mountains roads warn us that the way ahead is winding and steep. Some warn there is a speed bump ahead. Slow down. Speed limits signs are not warnings that a traffic cop is waiting; but to keep us and others safe on the road. Not to stop or hinder, but to help us on our way. Sometimes, a sign tells us to stop and go another direction; or, we have traveled this way long enough and now it time to take the exit ramp and get on another highway. Once you have traveled past many mile posts and many, many signs you settle into your trip. You get up to speed. You know how to handle the road. You know when to stop for gas. For food. To get help. Or, stop a while and rest for the night. The motel sign is like a pain, a problem or illness that puts us on our backs for a moment. The psalmist wrote, “he (God) makes us to lie down . . .” (Psalm 23). Through it all we develop endurance. We learn to handle the road, read the signs and keep on keeping on.

Once you have endured a little while, a new attitude settles in. You see a sign telling you the distance you have traveled. So, you think, “Oh. 50 more miles. I was wanting to get there sooner. Instead of frustration you speak better words to yourself, ‘but, I’ve made 75 miles and this next stretch will be no problem. Give me time to talk to my passenger. Listen to the radio. Play a lecture or audio book or some music. Or, pray. Good time for that. I’ll pray, meditate. No distractions. I’m not in control. I am doing all I can do. I change want I can and will be patient with this situation which I cannot control. I’m OK. I can use this time wisely. I can pray the rosary, meditate or converse’. Why can you talk that way? Because you are developing character. You will not throw a fit because of the signs. Instead you will react in a mature and positive manner. And, this is encouraged by reading these signs – these encounters with affliction.

Eventually, the miles tick off and you are hanging on and getting closer. You are so hopeful that you will soon finish this trip. It’s not a “hope ‘a, hope ‘a, hope ‘a” emotion; like whistling past a grave yard but a calm, settled hope. It is a hope that is a certainty. This hope will never disappoint. It is a sure bet.

This hope is so strong so sure that you feel pride and strength knowing your outcome is sure. It causes love to bloom and be planted inside the soul. The road will end and you will embrace loved ones, family, old friends or meet up with a partner you are working with and so, successfully complete a project that is important to you, your business and family. Love is where you end up because love is where you started. It was love that caused you to see those early and first afflictions. Those signs on your journey, as mile posts, as bill boards that beckon you on to rest, to refreshment, to strength and fulfillment and to safety.

Affliction that makes us miserable are often afflictions we do not read well. In God’s love nothing is wasted. Love, pleasure, attention, duty, strength, intelligence, pain or disappointments are all in his plan – coinage in the personal finance or our spiritual journey.

We endure. We grow in character. And, with a sure certain hope we endeavor to love, which is the very thing that drew us from the beginning. St. Paul says we have faith; we have peace; we have our Lord Jesus Christ. And so, “we even boast of our affliction, knowing that affliction produces endurance and endurance, proven character and proven character, and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5.

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Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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