*I have also posted this at Novum Testamentum, but thought I would post it here as well*
No one in there right mind loves trials and distress. When times of trouble and difficulty come, the first thing we are tempted to do is to distrust the Lord. This is all to common in my own life. But when I am tempted to do so, I am again reminded of Paul’s words to the Romans:
Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Paul reminds his readers that because they have been justified (Δικαιωθεντες) they now have peace with God (προς τον θεον), and this peace comes through the Lord Jesus Christ (δια του κυριου ημων Ιησου Χροιστου). Furthermore, they now have access (προσαγωγην) to God through Christ, an access that comes by faith (τη πιστει). Likewise, because they have peace they can confidently stand in the grace of God and boast in the hope of his glory (της δοξης του θεου).
In Rom 5.3 Paul remarks that not only do we now have the joy of boasting in the hope of the glory of God, we now also have the joy of boasting in tribulations. Note the similarities between the two:
καυχωμεθα επ ελπιδι της δοξης του θεου (We boast in the hope of the glory of God) Rom 5.2
καυχωμεθα εν ταις θλιψεσιν (We boast in tribulations) Rom 5.3.
In Philippians Paul makes a similar contrast when he writes, “For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him” (Phil 1.29). But we may wonder why the Lord wants us to suffer. Is there real merit to suffering? It may be all to easy to think of trials as a mean gift of from God, but this is not the case. Paul tells his readers in Rome that when we boast in the tribulations that come our way, this produces the very things that we need to be able to survive the tribulation. These things are:
a. Endurance (υπομονη).
b. Character (δοκιμη).
c. Hope (ελπις).
The more we endure the tribulations that this life has to offer us, the more endurance we build up. Lets face it, all of us will face trials in this life and what we need to be able to get out of bed in the morning is endurance. As God is granting us this endurance, he is also molding our character. Nothing important comes without being stretched, and has we endure through life’s trials God builds in us character. The one thing that gets us through the day is the hope that we have in our Lord. It is this very hope that gets us out of bed when we would rather sleep the day away in depression. It is this hope that sets our mind on eternity. Let us praise our Savior for this very hope which he has placed in our hearts through his Spirit which he has granted us.
This post is not so much an academic post as it is a encouragement to persevere through the tribulation that comes to us all. It is reminder to myself that the Lord knows what he is doing when it seems like my world is crashing down on me. It is then that I realize how real and how close he is, and I cry out to him for mercy and grace. I leave us with the words of the Psalmist:
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!