Gracefully Truthful

Broken,Character,Digging Deeper,Faithfulness,God,Jesus,Redemption,Suffering

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
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Romans 5:2-5

We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

3 And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.

5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The Original Intent

1) According to this passage, what should our attitude be during suffering?

Shockingly, believers in Jesus are encouraged to rejoice during suffering.

In Romans 5:2-5 Paul declares two unshakeable things in which we can continually rejoice. The first is the hope of the glory of God. (verse 2) The second is our suffering. (verse 3)

When Paul writes about rejoicing, he uses the Greek word, kauchaomai, which means to “elevate” or “boast”. We are literally boasting, or bragging, that God will be “shown off” through our suffering.

His glory being revealed within our suffering is the first aspect of our rejoicing. Then we “rejoice” or, “elevate” our mindset by putting our hope beyond the sufferings themselves and onto Hope in the person of Jesus Christ.

This is not to say, however, we rejoice in the actual suffering. For example, a woman diagnosed with cancer doesn’t rejoice that she has a disease. Her rejoicing, or the shifting of her perspective to orient to a biblical viewpoint, would reflect viewing her cancer as the means by which God will be glorified and she will build endurance.

In turn, this endurance will be used by God to develop her character, which will strengthen her confident expectation of the goodness to come both in her present reality and in eternity with Jesus.

We rejoice that our suffering will show off God’s goodness, and we rejoice, or look beyond our suffering, to know the purposes it will achieve as God works through every detail.

The Everyday Application

1) According to this passage, what should our attitude be during suffering?

Our rejoicing attitude reflects a perspective shift in our minds. (Romans 12:2) In Colossians 3:1-4, God tells us to lift our eyes above the things of this world because our “real life” is hidden with Christ Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 4:17, Paul reminds us our trials are “light and momentary”.

They don’t feel light and momentary, so how can he say this? Paul suffered more than most. He had physical ailments, imprisonment, threats of death, beatings, shipwreck, opposition, rejection, betrayal, and more. Like Paul, we can say our troubles are light and momentary when we gain an eternal perspective.

What if I choose to look at each situation with a magnifying glass, bent down near to the problems? In that stance, I only see the difficulty and pain I am experiencing. In contrast, when I take an eternal perspective, it’s like I toss aside the magnifying glass and stand up so my problem is seen in the context of a much bigger picture.

Even though I don’t rejoice in having the problems I face and the pain they cause, I can see the purpose they are being used for in my life and rejoice in that. In a similar way, I don’t rejoice when my personal trainer tells me to do ten more repetitions of a difficult exercise while my whole body screams out during that exertion. But I do rejoice in the fruit of that suffering and can look past the pain to see the reason I’m enduring. I know the more I exercise, the stronger I will be and the more fit to live the life I desire.

Suffering is like exercise that pains us, but in the long run, makes us stronger and more prepared to enjoy the rich presence of God in heaven.

The Original Intent

2) What gifts does suffering bring?

Paul lays out three specific gifts in Romans 5:2-5 regarding suffering. The first is endurance, which is the ability to withstand, persevere, and “hang in” when things are hard.

This unique blessing is received as we walk through suffering. We don’t gain endurance when life is easy and comfortable. Only suffering redeemed by a loving God can deliver the gift of endurance.

The second gift of suffering is character. This may be an even greater gift than endurance because the person I become is one who is more like Jesus, and more like the person He created me to be before I was marred by sin. Through hardship, God not only redeems our suffering through endurance, He reveals who we were designed to be in Him.

Suffering is the refining fire that burns off the un-useful and sin-wrecked harmful habits in me so our character becomes more Christlike.

Thirdly, we receive the blessing of hope, which is a gift like no other. Like a crowning jewel, God uses suffering to produce His unshakeable hope within us. Hope that will not disappoint because it isn’t placed on an event or a set of circumstances, but on the unchanging person of God Himself.

As we surrender our suffering to Jesus, He is faithful to redeem our brokenness, reveal our true identity, and then crown us with “real life” through incorruptible hope.

The Everyday Application

2) What gifts does suffering bring?

The famous author and student of Scripture, C. S. Lewis, said, “We want not so much a Father but a grandfather in heaven, a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?” And yet, (according to C. S. Lewis again) we have a God who does not, “love us because we are good, but a God who will make us good because He loves us.”

The way He often makes us good, re-shaping us into His image, is through what we consider suffering. As a constantly good and gracious Father God, He allows hardship and suffering to come into our lives and then uses it for His divinely good purposes, “producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

In a fallen world where selfishness and sin abound, both around us and in us, suffering is an inevitable byproduct. However, we can be confident our good God uses that suffering, and the endurance He builds in us, to bring about the growth needed to make us more like Himself.

Amazingly, here in the heartache of suffering that is surrendered to Jesus, we become free people, alive with radical love which He has lavished upon us. (1 John 3:1-3)

The Original Intent

3) What does it truly mean to have biblical hope?

The original Greek word Paul used here that is translated “hope” in English means “confident assurance”. These days, if we use the term hope, we are often implying we “wish” for something we aren’t at all certain we will obtain. This definition doesn’t help us at all when we consider biblical hope!

Paul’s Greek word, “ἐλπίς”, isn’t pie-in-the sky wishful thinking like, “I hope I get to go to Europe someday,” or, “I hope I win the giveaway I entered.” Hope, from a biblical perspective, is absolutely certain.

When people in Jesus’ time spoke of hope, they meant something you could count on and build upon without doubt. Suffering gives us the capacity to hope deeply.

As we suffer, enduring through trial, our character matures, and we develop the kind of trust in God that is absolutely certain of His love and our future with Him. If we choose to walk through the storms of life with Jesus, we come out personally knowing His goodness more fully than we did before we ever encountered difficulty.

This is a work only God can accomplish even in the most difficult of sufferings! The blessings He provides through suffering are gifts we could never gain any other way. 

The Everyday Application

3) What does it truly mean to have biblical hope?

As Christians, we always have hope amidst our suffering because we know our suffering will absolutely lead to fruit within our character. Not because we are amazing at self-perseverance, but because our good God is powerful enough to build our endurance in us, even in the midst of suffering.

We know our sufferings are light and momentary when we hold them up to the measuring stick of eternity; this perspective is the gift of faith. When we have biblical hope, we are putting our trust in God, knowing for certain He is with us through even the darkest valley. He will not leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

He will use each and every drop of what we endure to bless us and to show Himself off. As we think on these things, lifting our eyes above the things of the world and placing them where our real life is hidden with Jesus, we gain a broader perspective which helps us remain patiently still while we allow suffering to have its way with us.

God is always at work during trials. Remembering this gives us the greatest hope of all.

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abundance,attitude,Biblical Hope,endurance,followers,Glorified,glory,goodness,perspective,ready,rejoice,Unlikely
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