Romans 5:3-5 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Justification Brings Joy in Sufferings

Life is complex, it involves pain, sometimes as much as pleasure.  When life is “going well” we can savor and enjoy, but when things are “going badly” for us, what difference does the “peace with God,” the “access by faith,” and the “hope of the glory of God” actually make in our life?  – Paul tells us they make all the difference. Paul says we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” but he says right after, that we also “glory in tribulations” or we glory in trials and troubles.   In effect, Paul is saying, “Not only do we have these joys, but these joys remain joys in our sorrow, and even help us to find joy in our sorrow.” A Christian can and should possess joy in their soul, this will not always necessarily equate to happiness, but true joy should permeate a Christian.  Someone once said, “Happiness comes from happenings, but joy is a state of being.

We glory in tribulations” – Christians rejoice in sufferings.  This does not mean there is joy in the actual troubles themselves. A Christian knows, as Paul tells us in these verses, that sufferings will have beneficial results for us. “A Christian is not a stoic, who faces suffering by just gritting their teeth. Christians “look through” the suffering to their certainties.[1] We can look through the suffering, the pain, and the trial, to Jesus, and because He has suffered Himself, He is able to comfort us. He is able to give us a state of being that is joy filled even in the midst of the greatest of trials. (Hebrews 2:18 –  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.)

Illustration: The faith that can’t be shaken is the faith that has been shaken

God tells us “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (I Peter 1:7).

There was a woman named Alice sitting at a restaurant, talking with a friend about painful challenges in their lives. They frequently mentioned the Lord in their conversation. Alice noticed a young woman at the table next to them who had a radiant and joyful face. The young woman smiled and said she had overheard their conversation. Speaking softly, she encouraged Alice and her friend that God understood and cared about their heartaches, and nothing could separate them from God’s love.

Alice continued talking with her friend but realized something was different. The young woman’s words had refreshed them. When the smiling woman got up to leave, Alice saw that she wore bulky shoes, carried a walking stick, and moved with a very pronounced limp.

The waitress told Alice this woman had been in a near-fatal automobile accident the year before. She had been in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation. Her husband divorced her as he grew tired of caring for her. Their home had been sold, and she had just moved into her own apartment. She used public transportation because she could not drive. She had been unable thus far to find a job.

Alice sat stunned. She said, “The young woman’s conversation had been filled with delights of the Lord. There had been no weariness about her. She had encouraged us with words of praise and promise. Meeting her that day, we never would have suspected that storms were raging in her life. Even as she stepped outside into the cold winter wind, she seemed to carry God’s warm shelter of hope with her.”[2]

As Christians we can have joy in the Lord in the midst of trials, as this young woman did as many storms were raging in her life, she let the joy of the Lord shine through her to others. As Paul says, we should “glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts…”

What are the positive results of suffering?

That heading may not sound right; how can suffering be positive? – Remember that Paul is telling us how suffering affects a person who knows he or she is justified strictly by grace, not works, in that case Paul says suffering begins a chain reaction.

  • Suffering leads to “patience” or single-mindedness (v.3) – Suffering makes us focus – it helps us to focus on what is really important. It helps us to re-align our priorities, it removes distractions.
  • Patience leads to “experience” or to character (v.4) – the Greek word used here means “testedness” or “trustiness.” Someone described it this way, “It is a quality of confidence that comes from having been through an experience. It only comes from following through and doing your duty despite it all. And the result is a growing poise that only comes from the experience.[3] Suffering, if it leads you to first focus on God and proper priorities, will lead you to greater confidence, greater peace and greater joy in the Lord as you come through it.
  • All this leads to growth in “hope,” which is a stronger assurance of and confidence in one’s peace, access to God, and future glory. (v.4) – Suffering removes from our life rival sources of confidence and hope; other places we may look to for our sense that, deep down inside, we are OK, that everything will be OK. Suffering drives us to the only place that we can get real hope, to the only place that we can have an authentic feeling of being OK, to the only place where we can have real confidence and real certainty and that place is God.

[1] (Keller, 2014)

[2] (Alcorn, 2009)

[3] (Keller, 2014)