Before facing a major trial, most Christians seem to believe they have a pretty good grasp on Romans 5:3-4 and could easily apply it to their lives when difficult times come. Then everything changes. In this verse Paul lists “tribulations” as one of the blessings of our salvation in Christ. The word “tribulation” refers to all kinds of trials which may press in upon us. This includes such things as financial or physical need, trying circumstances, the pressure of sorrow; sickness, persecution, mistreatment, or loneliness. In the midst of these afflictions, God’s grace enables us to seek His face more diligently and produces in us a persevering spirit and character that overcome the trials and troubles of life. Instead of driving us to despair and hopelessness, tribulation brings forth perseverance, perseverance brings forth proven character, and proven character results in a mature hope that will not be disappointed.
God’s grace enables us to look beyond our present problems to a fervent hope in God and a certain hope for the return of our Lord to establish righteousness and godliness in the new heaven and earth (1 Thessalonians 4:13; Revelation 19-22). In the meantime, while on this earth, we have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit in order to comfort us in our trials and bring Christ presence near (John 14:16-23).
You may experience the loss of a loved one, start having problems in your marriage, or get a phone call from the doctor saying, “You have cancer”. It’s in these moments that we often realize how weak we are… and those can be some dark times. But in these moments, we have a choice. We can turn our backs on Christianity, run from reality, or accept that our circumstances are from God. We have to persevere. We have to trust that God–Who knows the number of hairs on our head–cares enough about us to take care of us, no matter what. And we have to remind ourselves of that each morning.
Every day that we endure trials we grow in our abilities to persevere through difficult times. Persevering is something we’re commanded to do often in Scripture. So growing in perseverance is nothing to take lightly! Paul tells us that perseverance we gain from suffering also produces character. As we face our suffering and live through them, we become stronger people. We develop firm beliefs and we are reminded of our own strength. People who have endured suffering can be less easily swayed by the opinions of others. They can persevere through difficult moral conflicts and temptations because they have persevered through struggles. That’s a precious gift that each of us receives as we go through storms in our lives.
Finally, we are told that character produces hope. We have hope for the future and for each day because we know that our God is watching out for us. And Paul tells us this hope will not disappoint. All our suffering is ultimately producing a hope that is fulfilled every day in Jesus. There is nothing better for us to glory in!
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for using my suffering to make me more like Your Son. Help me to persevere, grow in my character, and find hope in You. Give me faith that You are building me into a better person through my trials. Thank you for Your grace when I fail. In Jesus name. Amen