But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.
In one of the “Rocky” movies, Rocky’s grizzled old trainer tells him he has to go back to the days when he was “hungry” to find the oomph to fight well again. Scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments, does something similar. The prophets often remind Israel of its youth, wandering in the desert with God and learning to be faithful to the covenant. The New Testament, as well, sees something wonderful in the early—and hard—days of the Church. It is one of the strange paradoxes of life that there is something beautiful in hardship, something precious in poverty, something singularly intimate with God in rejection by men. Today, if you are enduring hardship, bring it to God and ask him transfigure it. One of the miracles of Christ is that he can bring us to the place where we look back with fondness and nostalgia on some painful time in our life and say, “Those were the days.” But, of course, he does so not to make us pine for the past, but to inspire us to press on toward heaven.