For those who are not up to date with current news and haven’t heard, there was a recent shooting massacre that occurred on Sunday, October 1st around 10 pm during a Country Music festival in Las Vegas. The last update I read about said 59 people had died and 527 people were injured. This is considered the largest and deadliest mass shooting in modern times. My deepest sympathies and prayers go out towards the victims and their families.
I feel as if this past month or two alone have been filled with crazy incidents, from the numerous hurricanes to the terrorist attacks such as the one I mentioned. Unfortunately, we are not promised an easy life in which all our desires are met. In fact, it is very clear to us that we will suffer at times. Being a Christian in the world we live in is not easy, and it will only get more difficult as times go on and distractions go up. However, we as Christians need to ignore the distractions that Satan throws at us and continue living to glorify God.
While at Basic Training, I would always attend the church services at Soldier’s Chapel on Sand Hill. I remember one of my favorite sermons was over Romans 5:3-6 and I find that this passage is very much appropriate for times like these. As usual, I am going to break down this passage and analyze it so we can have a better understanding of it.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…” (Romans 5:3 ESV)
To understand this verse in it’s entirety, we must take a step back to the previous few verses. Verses one through two read, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Paul starts this chapter off by explaining why we have peace with God. We as Christians have been saved through faith alone through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is one of the five Solas, Sola Fide. Through faith, we have been justified and declared righteous. We no longer have to be in fear of judgement and God’s wrath, but instead we find peace. It is through Jesus Christ that we are able to access grace, by faith, in which we Christians now stand. Because of all these things, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
So not only are we saved by faith in Jesus Christ, and not only do we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, but we also rejoice in our sufferings. Paul begins talking about the good things for a Christian. We have an assurance that when we die, we will join our Lord and Savior in heaven, but then he says that we rejoice in sufferings. At this point, I would definitely view Paul as an optimist, but he explains himself in a way that one thing leads to another, and so on.
Suffering produces endurance. When we undergo trials and tribulations, we tend to think negative thoughts. That is typical human nature, however, we must look up to God for strength. We need to understand that things happen for a reason, as Ashton Clark wrote about last week (A great post to read. Click here to read if you haven’t). Maybe it is to punish us or to remind us to get back on track. I don’t know the exact will of God, but I do know that when times get hard, they build our endurance.
Look at it this way. Soldiers undergo tough and difficult physical training in order to build up their endurance so that when the time comes, they are prepared. It ultimately makes them stronger, faster, and better. Sure, it is extremely tough, but it is for their own good. The same case goes for Christians who are soldiers of God. We undergo spiritual difficulties to make us better. We can be rest assured that everything that happens, happens for a reason and that tribulations will result in endurance and make us better Christians.
“… and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (Romans 5:4 ESV)
So sufferings produce endurance, but then endurance produced character, and then character produced hope. If I haven’t mentioned before, I love how Paul writes this. The more we suffer, the more we will grow in endurance. And as we grow in endurance, we produce character or experience. Because we can endure more longer, our character grows. As I said, we become better Christians and soldiers of God. That is because we have better character.
People will often judge us based off our character, but what exactly is character? Character consists of mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. Character coincides with our experience. As we experience more, our character changes to reflect how we deal with different experiences. As Christians, we already have certain qualities about us that make us stand out from the world. When we go through trials and tribulations, and our endurance grows as a result of those sufferings, we add more to our experiences and thus our character.
What would you consider your character to look like? For instance, if something tragic happened to you, what would you do? Would you turn to God and seek His guidance, or would you turn away from Him and blame him? When we lean on Him in our trials, we endure more, and our character reflects those decisions in our experiences.
Finally, character produces hope. After all that we go through, we find hope. We turn something unpleasant, uncomfortable, and painful into something like hope. We’ve all heard the saying: in times where all seems to be lost, there is hope. Well that saying is true. We have hope because those difficult times lead to greater endurance, which shows in our character and produces hope. We have hope in Jesus Christ. That He is our Lord, Savior, and King. That He died for the elect and that we are saved through faith in Him.
“…and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5 ESV)
After we come to the realization that though we are suffering, we still have hope, and we must not be shameful. Jesus Christ is what all Christians hope for. If you are shameful for having hope, then you are shameful of Jesus. We are saved. There is absolutely no reason for us to be in shame of the one who saved us. This is so because of God’s love that has melted our hearts of stone through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promised us that when He ascended to heaven, there would be a Helper. I feel that the Holy Spirit is often overlooked. The Spirit is the one who pours out God’s love into our hearts. It is He who calls us to be a part of the Elect, and it is He who secures our promised inheritance. The Holy Spirit is an integral part of the Trinity, and we must never forget that. He will always be with us through the times of prosperity and good, and He will be with us in the trials and tribulations so that when we suffer, we can admirably hope in Jesus Christ.
I hope that you see that in these difficult times, we are able to look up to God and hope in Christ. Because of our painful suffering, we are able to endure more longer. These times show in our experiences and are reflected on our character, and through that we hope. We hope in the wonderful Jesus Christ. We hope in our wonderful promises, and we put our hope in God that even though we face troubling times, we are able to glorify God for allowing us to become soldiers of God.
Soli Deo Gloria.