Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 5 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:
[You’ll forgive me for my notes on the passage (the bolding, the comment “It’s not a waste!”)? These are the first thoughts that hit me as I read the passage.]
Notice two points in this text:
(1) We boast in the hope of the glory of God (v. 2)
(2) We also glory in our sufferings (v. 3)
I’m not certain what the first statement means, but I want to focus on the second. “We glory in our sufferings.” WHAT?! Is Paul crazy? How could he say such a thing?!
This same Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12 and actually says there that he “delights . . . in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” (v. 10). But, notice please, I left out some critical words: “for Christ’s sake”! The Christian life is not pathological, but purposeful. Whatever we suffer — it is for Christ’s sake!
Here in Romans 5, Paul wants us to glory in our sufferings because —
(1) of what we KNOW — we know that suffering produces! Suffering is not worthless or a waste. It can be incredibly productive! It produces perseverance, character, and hope! And we could all use more of that trinity of qualities, right?
(2) of what we HOPE FOR — We are not “put to shame.” What does that mean? Put to shame about our suffering? We have HOPE that our suffering will make us more like Christ. And our assurance of that progress towards holiness is the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit who has poured out into our hearts the love of God. A gift worth everything!