Batman and Robin decided to go camping. They set up their tent and went to sleep. A couple of hours later, Batman wakes his faithful friend. “Robin, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”
Robin, who is used to these midnight lessons, replies, “I see millions of stars.”
“What does that tell you?” asks Batman.
Robin ponders for a minute. “Well, astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Chronologically, it appears to be about 3:15AM. Theologically, it’s evident that God is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant.”
“Why?” continued Robin. “What does it tell you, Batman?”
Batman is silent for a moment, then speaks. “Robin, you’re an idiot. It means somebody stole our tent while we were sleeping.”
How many of you grew up watching the television show “Batman?” Batman began as a comic book, evolved to TV, and is the recent subject of several new movies.
His story is first told in a twelve-frame comic strip in 1939 in issue #27 of Detective Comics. He and his parents are walking home from the theater when an armed robber accosts them. His father steps in front of his mother and takes a bullet. Then the gunman turns the gun on his mother while he watches. The robber runs away, leaving him standing over his dead parents. His guilt over standing by helplessly while his parents were murdered turns the boy Bruce Wayne into the superhero crime-fighter Batman. He dedicates his life to stopping criminals and defending the helpless.
Batman embodies the notion found in verse 3 in our scripture this morning:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 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.
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character. Character produces hope. Lord knows, we are in a season that requires a lot of perseverance right now.
Can you recall a time in your life when you had to persevere through something? Maybe it was as transient as enduring the awkwardness of Middle School, or as life-changing as the kind of perseverance that families learn when they are battling cancer. Some are dealing with the challenges of raising a special needs child or a rebellious teenager, while others are honing their character by being caregivers to a parent who is struggling with dementia. Suffering that produces character that teaches us perseverance takes many forms. As this pandemic continues without an end in sight, we are all learning perseverance.
Many of you know that our family learned about perseverance when our daughter was diagnosed with cancer. It truly is in these moments that God teaches us so much about himself. Even the worst of times can be a blessing in the end, for it is often in those seasons that you learn who you are, and WHOSE you are.
I say this to everyone today who is enduring something: God is with you. Even in your darkest moments, God’s light can be found if you look up and study the heavens.
Robin was right: the bright, shining stars and the vastness of the universe remind us that God is all-powerful and we, and our troubles, are small and insignificant by comparison.
5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
May you persevere through whatever it is you are suffering through right now, and find the hope that comes from God. Hang in there. God is with us.