Rejoice in Sufferings
More than that, 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 had been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Paul instructs us to rejoice in our sufferings. Notice that he does not tell us to rejoice in the relief of our sufferings but to rejoice IN our sufferings. Why? Why are we to rejoice in our sufferings? Paul says it is because of what our sufferings produce.
Suffering produces endurance. The process of faithfully walking through suffering produces in the one suffering endurance. Like training to run a marathon, the suffering of faithful training will produce the endurance to complete the 23.2 miles. Likewise, suffering produces the endurance necessary to faithfully run the race set before us. Troubles toughen one up so that they can face the storms of life.
The endurance that suffering produces then produces character, Christ-like character. It is a character that comes from having been tested. It is a proven character. A character that has endured many hardships and come out strengthened on the other side. The production of this character then produces hope.
How is it that suffering produces character and character produces hope? According to Tom Schreiner, “Such tested character in turn generates hope. Why does tested character spark hope? Because moral transformation constitutes evidence that one has really been changed by God. Thus it assures believers that the hope of future glory is not an illusion.” (Schreiner, Romans, 256). The moral transformation one sees in the here and now is proof of progressive sanctification. It will have its ups and downs but indicates that one is changing.
Finally, Paul teaches that the hope produced by endurance will not put us to shame. Those who trust in God will be vindicated in the end. Those who rejoice in their sufferings will have hope because God’s love has been poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit. Their hope will be vindicated because they will be spared God’s wrath. The love God has poured into their hearts vindicates their hope. It was not misplaced but rightly placed.
The question we must answer is, Do we rejoice in our sufferings? Do we see God’s hand in our suffering? Do we grasp that our sufferings will produce endurance, character, and hope? Do we help our counselees see these truths?
By His Grace Alone,