By Brooke Holt
“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. 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.” Romans 5:2-5
Last week I reconnected with a very dear friend. As we caught up, she shared about the struggles of the past couple of years as well as the healing that God has worked in her life. She had many dark days – days of physical and emotional pain. While she wouldn’t want to go back to those days, she wouldn’t change a thing. God revealed himself to her through those dark days in ways she had never experienced. He taught her, comforted her, held her, and transformed her in the seeming darkness. Those challenging experiences made her a different (she would say better) person, as her faith has grown deeper and richer than ever.
Paul writes about this kind of suffering and the fruit it can produce. Everyone loves the hope of glory, but we all would like to bypass the suffering. Who wants to suffer? Not I or anyone I know, yet Paul says we are “to rejoice in our suffering” (verse 3). Is that possible? Paul would answer with a resounding yes, but only through the grace of God poured out into our lives.
Just as my friend experienced, God longs to be present in our times of suffering. His presence can change everything, and we have the assurance that he will work good in all things (see Romans 8:28). Beyond that, Paul talks about the transformation of God’s people through suffering. As he wrote, suffering teaches endurance through a dependency on the Lord; that endurance then produces character – a character that exemplifies godly humility and grace. As that character is formed, we find hope – not a fleeting hope but an enduring hope grounded in God’s love.
Throughout the past year, I have experienced incredible suffering. During this time of trial, I remind myself not to waste the pain but to let God work both in and through the struggles. Providentially, my friend spoke that exact phrase in our conversation. God will use every struggle to strengthen your faith, your hope, and your love.
If you find yourself in a tough place today, lift your eyes to Jesus. He is right there and ready to comfort, support, and strengthen you.
Are you experiencing this kind of hope today in all your circumstances? As Paul later wrote to the Corinthians, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). God loves you with a perfect and infinite love. It is a love that will never let you go. Whether you are in good times or challenging times, rest in that love today. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Our honest prayer before God is evidence that we understand the ways He loves, cherishes, sees, and hears us. Through prayer, we can acknowledge with Hagar, “You are the living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). When we pray, we are affirming the same. Why do we often hide from this privilege? Why do we avoid God, the One who sees us as we are and stands ready to provide and answer us in his holy, timely way? In this 8-week study on the prayers of Job, Ruth, Hannah, and David, grow your prayer life by facing your honest need and bringing your whole self before God. Acknowledging God as the One who guides your path can change your heart. It can take you past fear and into faith, strength, and hope. Learn more about Honest Prayer.
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