Romans 5:3-5 (ESV) — And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Everybody wants to be healthier, have more money, and experience more joy in their lives, but most people don’t have the discipline to do the things that bring those results. We don’t like eating healthy or exercising. We want the weight loss and health benefits, but we don’t want the work. Everyone loves the idea of a little more money in their savings account, or a little less debt, but not many have the discipline to make a budget and follow it. People desire stronger relationships, but don’t always invest the time and energy into the things that produce that strength.
In other words, we love the idea of things maturing and getting stronger, but we don’t want to do the work. Our passage today shows us that one of the ways we grow and mature in the Christian life comes through our trials and pains. These are things we would never sign up for, but God ordains them in our lives to sharpen and shape us. Paul writes about exulting in tribulations. The reason for this is because those tribulations are seeds that produce perseverance. Perseverance develops character, and that breeds hope. The hopeful Christian is formed by those tribulations in their life.
Most of us want our tribulations to end as quickly as they come. A part of this is normal. One day tribulations will be no more, so it is okay to long for that day. But the Scriptures tell us something very counterintuitive. Trials produce perseverance in us, and that perseverance develops character. We grow in substance. When life is stacked against us and the troubles mount up, the person who stays faithful and keeps going forward, develops character. And the outcome of that character is a hope that trusts in the goodness and faithfulness of God. Christian discipleship doesn’t just happen as we engage in spiritual disciplines, but through trials. So we exult as they come, because we know God is at work in us.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do we usually resort to taking the easy way or the path of least resistance?
- How do trials in our lives eventually produce hope? Have you seen this in your own life?
- What does it look like to exult in our tribulations? What are practical examples of this?
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