Romans 5:3-5 – Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For most people, our emotional life is a lot like a boat. When the tide rises, so does the boat. When the tide falls, so does the boat. When our days are good, we feel good; when our days are bad, we feel bad.
In contrast, Paul teaches us to do something altogether odd – “rejoice in our sufferings”. We learn many things in life, but not how to suffer well. It is not a subject matter in school, or a degree you can earn in college. But it is something that we all experience and the Holy Spirit, through Paul, gives us five ways to learn to rejoice in suffering:
- We rejoice in our sufferings
Anyone can rejoice after suffering is over. For the Christian, our secret to joy is finding reasons and ways to rejoice in the middle of the suffering. We can do this by asking some questions. How does my suffering make me grateful that Jesus suffered for me? How is God growing my character through suffering? How can my suffering give me more empathy for hurting people so I can better minister to them?
- Knowing that suffering produces endurance
In athletic competition, the key to victory is to not give up and not give in until it’s all over. For the Christian, the same is true. Until we see Jesus, we have to stay in the fight and keep enduring until we see the promised victory in the end. For leaders, the key to increasing your impact is to increase your pain threshold. The greatest leaders endure the greatest pain. This explains Jesus Christ who has impacted the world most because He suffered most.
- Endurance produces character
In our world that is fond of counting calories, dollars, and ballots, God wants His people to also be counting character. Just as resistance training strengthens the body, so too suffering is a form of spiritual resistance training that strengthens our character. This is why the worst times often produce the best people.
- Character produces hope
Suffering is a kind of trial by fire that has a unique way of burning away all objects of faith but God. When we hope in anyone or anything but God, we find that we have hoped in vain. When we are left with nothing but God as our only hope, it is then that we really have hope.
- And hope does not put us to shame
No one who runs to God in the dark days is ever ashamed of doing so. No one who invests their hardships in the bank of their character fails to see a good return on investment.
In summary, you often cannot decide what happens, but you can decide who you become.
How are you suffering? Which of these five things would be most helpful to you right now?
To find the free Romans study guide for individuals and small groups, hear Pastor Mark’s entire sermon series on Romans, or find a free mountain of Bible teaching visit realfaith.com or download the Real Faith app.