Are we actually commanded to boast in our afflictions?
Are we actually commanded to boast (or exult) in our afflictions? Many would answer “no.” Maybe a hearty few would say, “well…we do not boast in the trouble themselves, but in the midst of the suffering because Jesus has overcome death and these sufferings will one day end.”
This view reminds me of the “grit your teeth and bear it” mentality. Is this correct? What if I told you that we are to rejoice in the suffering itself? Now. How many would agree….?
Rejoicing in the act of suffering itself is exactly what Paul teaches. Romans 5:3 reads, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings…”
Again, the question is this, do we rejoice despite our sufferings, in the midst of our suffering, or in suffering? I think Paul is teaching the latter….
Dr. Thomas Schreiner has helpfully shown that Paul often uses the preposition “in” to introduce the object of boasting (or exulting or glorying or rejoicing; all these have the same verb, variously translated). Six verses are listed; all are displayed below.
More than that, we also rejoice in God… Romans 5:11
Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord… 1 Cor 1:31
So let no one boast in men. … 1 Cor 3:21
Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord… 2 Cor 10:17
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me… 2 Cor 12:9
…that they may boast in your flesh…. Gal 6:13
glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh… Phil 3:3
So…in Romans 5:3 Paul is boasting/exulting in his sufferings….
WHY? Great question… Paul is NOT a masochist. He boats in his sufferings for what they produce. In Romans 5:1-5 the result is a greater hope (assurance) in the salvation God promises. In 2 Cor 12:10 (see verse 9 above), Paul rejoices in suffering because they tend to kill self-sufficiency.
2 Cor 12:10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content (the verb literally means “think it well”; some translations say “take delight/pleasure in”) with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
THE enemy is not (never) suffering. THE enemy is self-sufficiency. God uses suffering to kill self-reliance, self-dependence, self-sufficiency.
So the next time you get sick or injured or sinned against REJOICE…. boast in that suffering…knowing that God is using it to kill the greater enemy…self.
Beloved…God uses the chemotherapy of suffering to kill the cancer of unbelief.
10,000 Blessings in THE Wonderful Counselor,