Everyone goes through tough times. I have. I’m pretty versed in the passages that help me see God’s good provision during hard circumstances, like Hebrews 12: 1-11, Romans 8: 28 ff, James 1: 2-4, 1 Peter 1: 6-7, 4: 12-13, and Philippians 3: 10, to name a few!
Well, I landed on one of my other favorite suffering verses tonight. Perfect timing, too, because I am feeling a lot of personal pain right now.
And I could use some hope. So, here goes.
Paul tells us that wecan “rejoice in the hope of glory” when we have faith in Christ’s death and resurrection. He continues:
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. Romans 5: 3-5
I need to rejoice tonight. I feel some minor suffering coming on!
What happens when I thank God for my suffering?
I gain endurance. The greek word translated “endurance” is means “to remain under” or “to bear up under.” It means to hang in there during the tough times. To not run away from the circumstance. Or to minimize its weight.
When I rejoice in my “suffering,” I grow in my ability to handle the next tough time. I’ve been through a lot of crappy circumstances – rejoiced – and learned better how to endure.
So, I know I’ll get through this one. Just gotta rejoice!
When I endure, when I hang in there – when I don’t run, don’t hide, don’t fake it – when I face the pain (and rejoice!), then my character improves.
I become more like Jesus – he whose suffering we share, he who was tempted in all ways like we are without sinning. I likely repent and draw closer to Jesus, too.
And as my character strengthens, I find hope. I realize all the pain is worth it in the end. I’m usually freed from this life in some way. I walk lighter – the burden of one of my idols cast off. I enter a new place of greater intimacy with Jesus.
And this hope is a sure hope. It doesn’t put me to shame or disappoint. There’s no bad ending here.
How do I know?
Because God loves me. He always does what’s best for me, even when it hurts. The cross reveals just how much he loves me.
He doesn’t just love me, he POURS his love into me!! When we believe Jesus died and rose for God’s glory and because of love for us, we receive the Holy Spirit who POURS out that love in our hearts
And it’s a love filled with hope – the hope that one day every wrong will be righted, every tear wiped away, every pain replaced with pure joy.
It’s a hope that everything we ever longed for, but never fully received, will be ours because we have Jesus. We will stand before the satisfier of our souls, worshiping day and night, longing for nothing because we are completely filled by His presence.
So what’s a little suffering on this earth compared to our hope? Nothing I can’t rejoice in, endure, and let work on my character.
Which reminds me of another great verse for suffering:
So we do not lose heart…. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18
Dear Lord: You know exactly the pain I feel right now. It’s a light momentary affliction. Help me to rejoice in it, endure, grow in character, and find hope… because your love is poured out in my heart. Thanks be to God! Amen