REJOICING IN SUFFERING

Scripture Reading: Romans 5:1-5

“More than that, 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.” (Romans 5:3-5)

This week we are looking at ways God uses difficulties and trials for our good (Romans 8:28). Today we read these words from Romans 5 — “We rejoice in our sufferings.” Christians have a very different perspective on suffering than non-Christians do. We can actually rejoice in our sufferings because we know that God is sovereignly working out His purpose in our lives.

How can we rejoice in our sufferings? Paul gives an answer to the question — “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Trials are unpleasant when we are going through them. None of us looks forward to times of suffering. This trial we are in is difficult and trying. Our lives have been radically changed because of this pandemic.

I have come to the the realization that things will get worse before they get better, and that we will be in this longer than I had expected. Anxiety began to creep back into my mind and my spirit was down. But, as I was reading this passage, I realized that God is at work in my life, teaching me endurance. We have to keep on keeping on. We have to endure through this trial.

Another passage came to me — “Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1b,2). Endurance produces character — “let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely.” Running the race with endurance requires us to get rid of things that hinder us, such as anxiety, fear, doubt, and negative thinking. God has us in training. He is building our character by making us more Christ-like.

Character produces hope. Look at Jesus. He endured the agony of the cross for us. We are the joy that was set before Him. Joy came to Him in His suffering when He considered what the outcome would be — the salvation of those whom He loved. The suffering and shame He experienced was worth it to Him. Jesus gives us hope in our sufferings, for we know that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” We are deeply loved. We are not alone. Jesus is in control. He “is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” He is there to intercede for us and He is fully in charge. Looking to Jesus will bring great joy and peace to us in the midst of our sufferings.

Lord Jesus, You endured the cross on my behalf. You bore its shame because of the joy set before You. We are Your joy. We are the beloved of God. We are not alone. We rejoice in our sufferings for they are producing endurance, character and hope in us. Let us keep our eyes on You.

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