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Pressure then pleasure—Romans 5 (Memory Monday)

stomach virusThe stomach virus of March 2008 was the worst I’ve ever had. I was pleading with God to LET me throw up so I’d feel better (which is opposite of my usual pleas). And he did.

But 24 hours later—what a glorious day!

I reveled in feeling better than I’d ever felt before. I took greater pleasure in the delicious smell of food. Life was sweet again, and I appreciated it far more than before the virus had struck. Death turned to resurrection.

In Reliving the Passion, the Lent devotional I’m reading, author Walter Wangerin begins with four reasons to relive the passion (stomach virus X a gazillion—a horrible analogy, forgive me) before you can fully appreciate Easter.

1. Ashes: it is necessary now to remember death, our own and our Savior’s.
2. The mirror: it is right to recognize our sin as the cause of death, to see in Christ’s story our sorrier selves and our need of his holy self.
3. The roadmap: it is expedient to study the Way by which all his disciples must follow him, and to receive the promise of a personal meeting with Christ on the Way.

And the 4th good reason? To prepare yourself for joy.

To fully feel the joy that comes with Christ’s rising, first feel the agony of the cross. “It is the experience of genuine grief that prepares for joy.”

So I’m reclaiming a past memory verse for this Lenten season:

3 We also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4 perseverance, character, and character, hope.
5 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.
Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

What comes first? Paul says it’s the suffering.

God uses the suffering to produce endurance, which morphs into stronger character, which becomes a foundation for hope.

So don’t begrudge the pressures of life. God can bloom them into pleasures.

Remember the fullness of the cross to fully rejoice at the emptiness of the tomb.

* * *More Memory Monday

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