1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 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. (ESV)
Why do we as believers rejoice in our sufferings? Because of what suffering produces. There is a cascade of benefits that start with suffering. First there is endurance, then character which produces hope. And hope keeps us from experiencing shame. We know this is the way that makes us more like Jesus because His Holy Spirit makes this all evident in our hearts. We don’t suffer in silence or by ourselves, but God suffers with us. As we keep our wits about us we realize that the Holy Spirit is strengthening and helping us meet the demands of a life that suffers knowing that in the end it produces hope and not shame. It’s not the hope that is conditional — I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow — but a promise that Christ is with us and in us.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I can I skirt the whole issue of suffering. And when I do suffer my pain threshold is very low. I lose sight of — or lose my wits so to speak — the benefits of suffering when it comes my way. When I ask my friends in Ukraine how they are doing, they speak of their sufferings, but are quick to remind me that God is good and will see them through their troubles. How much more would I experience the Holy Spirit’s power and presence in my life. The church in the West seems to be soft because we have not embraced suffering when it has come our way. Not that we go out of our way to cause suffering, but we should keep our wits about us as we go through it so that we won’t be embarrased when we come through it at the other end. If we do keep our wits about us, we will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.
Father-God, thank You for the presence of Your Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. I pray He would strengthen us and keep us strong as we go through the suffering that enters our lives. Thank You that we don’t suffer for no reason, but our suffering brings Glory to You. We pray these things in the strong Name of Jesus, Amen!