When we suffer

Sometimes when we open the Bible and talk about suffering, we can't seem to relate to the events most of the time. People automatically think that suffering is at the hands of those who do not believe. To be clear, the Bible has plenty to say about that kind of suffering. But when you think of how you suffered and are suffering, you may conclude, "In most cases, I am not suffering like those are persecuted., therefore, the Bible does not speak to what I am going through."

However, listen to this word, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.. Yes, I can assure you that we can somehow relate to "trials of various kinds" in the Bible

Romans 5:3-5 says (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)

Immediately, we find it impossible to connect those 2 things together. 'Rejoice' means happy, and 'suffering' means hurting. And happy and hurting do not go together. Wouldn't you say that's how the overwhelming majority of people see it? I won't say suffering itself is something delightful and to be desired. No! God has a plan of redemption to culminate a world without suffering. He is at work to eliminate suffering.

We can build our faith firm in these 2 pillars:-

  1. What God Will Do

  2. What God Has Done

Now I want you to see something extremely important here, we don't expect God to take away or might do some things with our suffering, but the verse Romans 5:4 simply asserts knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope. It's like a formula or a universal principle. Being confident in our planting, knowing that a seed, grows into a tree, and a tree puts out branches, and branches bring forth fruit.

You see, God wants us to know, if we belong to Jesus Christ through faith, then there is a "Law of Suffering" that is always in operation in all our trials. It is simply describing how God is at work which is broken down to 3 stages:-

First, suffering produces endurance, (no matter how you suffer, no matter the trials you face, you can rejoice in the fact that God will bring you through them. Though at times it may not feel like it, but you will most certainly endure. But there's more..

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, [3] for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness [same Greek word, “endurance”]. [4] And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Second, endurance produces character. As God enables us to endure through difficult times, through painful trials, He is also producing character in us. "Character” here means something is tested and proven; so its like “tested character” or “proven character”. It is like a confirmation. We are being changed on the inside. God is changing our moral fiber through suffering. Endurance through suffering not only tests us, but when we prove something we develop new kind of strength. You see physical survival is not the same as spiritual endurance. People can survive difficult times. But spiritually, when I suffer, it has made me more bitter, more desperate, and more insensitive to my need for God. Proven character is also like a block of marble. The sculptor chooses carefully a block of marble that has been tested and make sure it will not break under his hammer and chisel. God is doing the same thing through our suffering. He does not choose us because we are worthy. He chooses us to make us worthy. By His grace we persevere. By His grace we are proven.

Third, character produces hope. God is creating a masterpiece of hope in us, through our suffering. Hope in what? Well, look back at verse 2 of Romans 5...

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we can rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Now “the glory of God” is used in many contexts throughout the Bible. But it probably means the fullness of His glory in the fullness of His presence. We hope in reality we will see Him, and be with Him, and delight in His glory forever and ever...like we talked about, in a world without suffering.

So hope here is not like people use the word “hope”: “I sure hope that pizza comes on time. I hope I don't get fired tomorrow. I hope your father is in a better mood tonight.” But biblical hope is not wishing for some good luck. It is future looking faith in what God will do.

#lifelessons #growing #plants #suffering

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