“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.”
What an otherworldly picture of suffering. I in no way want to take these verses lightly. Like verse three, “We rejoice in our sufferings.” That does not mean when we go through suffering, hurt, pain, we just kind of put a smile on our face, pretend the pain isn’t real and try to gloss over at all. No, that’s not at all what the Bible’s talking about here or anywhere else.
Even in the midst of pain of suffering, we see God refining us. We are called to endure knowing that our hope in Christ will not put us to shame.
All throughout Scripture we see suffering men and women who are experiencing the effects of sin and hurt and pain in a fallen world, sometimes directly due to sin in their lives, sometimes not, in a Job-like away, not directly due to sin in our lives. And yet, we experience tragedy. We experience heartache. We experienced hurt. We experienced pain. So how is it possible to have joy in that? And the Bible says right before this that by faith we’ve been justified before God. Now we have peace with Him and we rejoice in Him. We’ve been reconciled to God and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. We rejoice in the hope that one day we will be with Him. So in light of that, verse three says, “Not only that, we we rejoice in our sufferings.” Why? Because we know that suffering produces endurance. Endurance. This is a picture we see all throughout the Bible. I think about Revelation, chapter one written to suffering brothers and sisters in the first century. The Bible calls them in Revelation chapter one to patient endurance. That’s a good way to describe life in a world of suffering.
It’s a call to endurance, but that endurance produces character. We grow in the midst of pain. We grow in the midst of hurt. We grow to know the comfort of God like we’ve seen in 2 Corinthians, chapter one. We grow to know the grace of God like we’ve seen in 2 Corinthians, chapter 10, his strength in our weakness. God forms our character even through the fire of suffering. And that character produces hope, and this is the word that was used back up in verse two. We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God and suffering produces endurance. Endurance produces character, and character produces hope. We have hope that suffering will not be the end of the story. And our hope does not put us to shame, verse five says. Our hope does not leave us empty.
You put your hope in a lot of things in this world, you’ll be put to shame. If you put your hope in a sports team, they’re going to let you down. You put your hope sometimes in people, they let you down. You put your hope in this or that in this world, and you will often find yourselves put to shame. You put your hope in God, you will never find yourself put to shame because God has poured out is love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. And that goes on in the next few verses to talk about God’s love in Christ, dying on a cross for us. And this is our hope, that sin will not have the last word, that suffering will not have their last word, that the affects of sin in a fallen world will not have the last word. Our hope is in the glory of God. He will have the last word.
Jesus has died on a cross in love for us. He has risen from the dead in victory over the grave and he has given you and me a hope that transcends the worst things that could happen to us in this world. Because one day these things will be over and we will be with God. Sin and suffering will be no more. He will wipe every tear from our eyes. So we pray, Oh God, in the midst of suffering, for joy, not for some trite put on a smile and pretend like everything’s okay. God, an acknowledgement when everything’s not okay in this fallen world, but a joy in the fact that this fallen world will not have the last word, that suffering will not have the last word. That suffering is producing endurance and endurance is producing character, and character’s producing hope. Oh God, produce all these things in us and cause a hope in us to rise, especially for those who are walking through suffering right now.
God, please give them hope. Remind them of your hope. Fuel them with your hope, a hope that will not put them to shame. A hope that one day suffering will be no more and life, eternal, abundant life, never ending life will be ours in Christ because he has died on a cross and risen from the grave for us. In this, we place our hope in him. We place our hope in your love. We place our hope and we praise you, oh God, that we will not be put to shame. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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