If you are living through a particularly difficult time, there is a steadying passage of Scripture for you in Romans 5:3-5 that reveals a potent insight into what God does in our lives during tough times. The passage begins with the Apostle Paul counterintuitively stating that “we also glory in our sufferings.” It is a strange, unnatural declaration by Paul since most of us do not glory in our sufferings. We are not masochists that enjoy pain; rather, we understandably try to get out of our painful moments as quickly as we can.
However, Paul explains that if we stay close to God amid our suffering, the Lord does something so special in us that it can actually cause us to glory—to exult or rejoice—in the pain. He says that our character calcifies, becoming unshakable and strong. Then, from that newly formed character, a new kind of hope begins to rise in us. Suffering produces character and character produces hope. Not a dreamy, pie-in-the-sky hope untethered to reality, but a robust hope based on an understanding that God is always good and always at work for our good. Stated differently, we access a hope that floats.
True hope buoys and anchors at the same time. It holds us in place and it keeps us from going under when the waves threaten to swamp us. Furthermore, this hope does not disappoint us because, ultimately, this hope introduces us to the love of God.
It is like a serum, an antidote or a remedy, that cures the devastating effects of the suffering. It brings life to the things that need to grow and it curses the weeds that want to choke our breath away. And eventually, regardless of what does or does not happen for us, we become so saturated with the love of God that we know we will ultimately be okay. Here are Paul’s words in entirety. Ponder them, absorb them, and let them lift your soul to more buoyant, hope-filled heights.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)