“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God … And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
Romans 8:18-21, 28-29
Anyone who has been following the Kleinjung Quest, you know that 2014 has been a particularly hard year. I wish I was so strong and noble so that I could say that it only looked hard from the outside, but the truth is … for everything you see on the outside of the crucible, you cannot know the heat and the pressure exerted unless you are inside. I cannot think of a single time in my life that has even come close to the amount of suffering and trial Katie and I have experienced in this past year.
So, when I saw someone post on Katie’s Facebook “2014 will be over soon enough,” it felt weird that I DIDN’T feel the same. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to relive this past year, but to blindly wish it away into the forgotten annuls of our life would be to entirely miss the point. I don’t believe that God INFLICTED me with my disease, but I believe He has been teaching me so much through all of this. Things that I will carry with me into Thailand. The two major things God has shown me are regarding Hope and Faith. I want to talk about Hope today, you’ll have to wait to hear about faith.
First, a little bit of background. In case you haven’t heard, the Kleinjungs are going to Thailand to be missionaries (NEWS FLASH). One of the biggest issues in Thailand is a deep hopelessness. Thai Buddhism has people locked in a karmic system that leaves them unable to understand or believe they can be any better or have anything more than they have. Imagine a life where the word “hope” doesn’t exist. It literally isn’t even in your vocabulary, not in the same way it means to us. This presents a unique issue when Jesus is the “Hope of the World.” Issues of morality and discipleship don’t matter to people and joy can’t abound if people feel they are doomed until they die, where they will get a chance to be something more.
The only way to combat this is to make Hope more than a word. Hope can’t be a concept. We have to LIVE Hope. The living embodiment of Hope in our everyday life. How is this even possible?
Recently, I had a dear friend of mine come up to a situation of great suffering. He, exasperated, said to me “I cannot see hope of this ever resolving.” I was instantly reminded of this verse from Romans:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame.
<Here comes a tangent>: I love logic and logic problems. I don’t know if you remember Algebra or Geometry from High School. There is just something about Geometric proofs and algebraic logic that makes me really happy… I know I’m a nerd but I wear it proudly.
I looked at my friend and said, “Are you suffering? Then you know that there is hope on the horizon, because that is the formula laid out in scripture.” If we choose to lean into our suffering and live in the glory of God, suffering will lead to perseverance will lead to character will lead to HOPE. If you are in Christ and suffering, you can rest in the knowledge of hope by the very fact that you are suffering. God likes to do things backwards like that. He’s tricky.
So, I will always treasure the prayers that everyone has given Katie and me this past year. I could literally feel your support every day, but know it wasn’t in vain. God has developed a deep well of character in our marriage and life. We have learned to abide in Hope. Our capacity for suffering and thereby our capacity for ministry and glory is deeper than ever before.
God at His very core and in His nature is good. Those used to be words to me, but I’ve seen it. In the dark, in pain, in a hospital bed, I have seen the goodness of God. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
So, bring it on Thailand. Bring it on 2015. The Kleinjungs are ready!