A previous article noted that the Apostle Paul tells us in the Bible that we have peace with God through Jesus.
Unfortunately, faith in Jesus does not bring us peace with all other persons or with ourselves or immunize us from suffering here on Earth.
Suffering is hard. Paul does not encourage us to seek needless suffering.
But Paul encourages us to be glad and to rejoice when suffering comes to us. Why? Paul tells us that “suffering produces perseverance,” which in turn produces “character,” which in turn produces “hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
That is, Paul tells us that our suffering allows us to increase our ability to persevere, which is our ability to endure things.
And our increased ability to endure then allows us to increase our character, which is our experienced, tested, and proven self.
And our increased experienced, tested, and proven self then allows us to increase our hope for ourselves and others for the future.
Did you get that? I struggled with it.
Paul tells us that, while we do not seek to suffer, we can be glad when suffering comes because, in the end, it increases our hope.
Having greater character increases our hope. Having greater endurance increases our character. Having suffering increases our endurance.
Thank you, but I would prefer not to suffer! Few of us do.
But Paul’s point is not that we should prefer to suffer. His point is that when suffering does come, as Christians, we can know that the suffering we must endure brings to us increased endurance, character, and hope.
But What if I am a Sinner?
Paul assures us the hope we have will not, in the end, disappoint us or put us to shame. (Romans 5:5) Because the Holy Spirit has been given to us and “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5)
But what if I have not lived up, and am not living up, to what God wants me to do? What if I have faith but still sin? Does this hope apply to me?
Yes, Paul assures, “Christ died for the ungodly. … God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
Paul goes on, “… For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:9-11)
So when suffering comes, it can lead to hope. And, having been reconciled with God, having God’s love poured into our hearts, and having been saved, all through Jesus, our hope can be a confident one, and includes such hope not just for ourselves but for our family, our friends, and others.
Through Jesus, through faith, we have peace with God. In this, we can rejoice.
Nevertheless, peace within ourselves and with others is hard to come by.
Such peace will be breached. We will suffer.
The Bible tells us, though, that suffering brings with it increased endurance, character, and hope, through Jesus.
While I would prefer not to suffer, I am thankful to hear about the endurance, character, and hope that suffering can bring.
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Sources / Notes
All scripture quotes from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
This article includes part of a sermon I delivered.
Reference No. 4B