Grace endures through hope and love

By Vinal Van Benthem | May 23, 2013

It was one of those wonderful news stories. A little 9-year-old girl had been invited to throw out the first ball on opening day. Dressed in jeans and a team shirt, blond ponytail bobbing behind her, she ran out to the pitcher’s mound and threw the ball across home plate. But that wasn’t what made the story newsworthy. It was the moment when the catcher took off his mask and the little girl realized that the man behind the mask was her father, a soldier who she thought was still in Afghanistan. She ran headlong into his waiting arms where the magic happened. And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

“[B]ut we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint …” Certainly that family had endured much because the man had chosen to serve his country in the cause of peace. Certainly that little girl had endured much in the absence of her father. But in the end their hope did not disappoint.

“But,” you say, “this is just one isolated story.” And you’re right. But isn’t that the beauty of it? The fact that there are many who endure affliction for the love of others, must also be the love of God who is in each one of us? A building collapse in Bangladesh kills hundreds and, in response to their affliction, people of character come forward to identify corrupt building inspectors and business owners. A Muslim girl is shot on a bus and in her affliction she endures, producing hope. Soldiers from many nations work side by side to help create a more peaceful world and through their endurance forge proven character. And when tornadoes strike a Texas town and forest fires spread across the Midwest, people of character come forward, producing hope.

Where is this “… love of God …” which Paul tells us is “… poured out into our hearts …?” Where is this hope which “… does not disappoint …?” Well, for starters, you might want to look into the eyes of that little 9-year-old girl.

Questions for reflection

1. Do you believe that grace can be found in affliction?

2. Have you ever experienced an affliction for which you were later grateful?

3. Can you think of anyone you know who has experienced grace coming out of affliction?

Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.

 

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