Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rejoicing in Present Hardships and Sufferings

Part 4 of 4: Some Fruits of Justification Series
Gleaned from Romans 5:1-4

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (NIV)

Because we have been justified, we could rejoice even in the most difficult times of our lives.

Of course rejoicing here is not denying our pains. It's not moving around the street shouting “Hallelujah!, my only son has cancer!" Christians still mourn over the pain they are going through. For how could we call it suffering if it is pleasant? Heb. 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful..."

Rejoicing in present hardships means finding comfort in the fact that God is doing something and what he is doing is beneficial to us.

" Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Heb.12:11)

When we suffer, we can rest in confidence that God is for us not against us, and he is using our sufferings to make us better.

It says here that our sufferings produce perseverance. Hebrews 12:1 presents the Christian life as a race. And it seems to me that this is a long distance run. This is not a sprint. If this is a hundred meter dash, the emphasis would have to be speed. But the quality emphasized here that the runners need is endurance.

Heb.12:12-13 reveals that sometimes we become to weary and weak too finish the race. Here in Rom.5, it is shown that the means by which God builds endurance among the weaklings is by subjecting them to suffering.

Verse 4 of our text says that after endurance is built, then comes character development. Suffering weans us away from sin. We see more and more of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23). We see more and more of love for God, the brethren and the rest of humanity (1 Cor.13).

Enduring hardships is also a test of the genuineness of our faith:

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7).

You are not as Christlike as you are today without those pains you experienced in the past. Do you have a model Christian in mind? Why don't you try interviewing him or her for the post-justification sufferings he or she has to go through.

When perseverance is built up and character honed, the last link will be hope. It will only build your hope for the future. Your faith will be strengthened. His faithfulness to us amidst our present sufferings is just a preview of his faithfulness to fulfill promised future blessings.

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