READ: Romans 5:1-11 (esp., v3-5)
- In the midst of speaking to peace and reconciliation, Paul centers in on an idea that surprises many readers. He introduces the idea with the word rejoice. The word sometimes means to boast. In other words, we are excited by, take pride in, speak about what we rejoice concerning. The first mention makes sense. In verse two we boast about the glory of God. We are excited to be included in it. We speak of our hope of being present with God.
- The turn comes in verse three when Paul says we also rejoice in suffering. The word often means persecution. But, it can be used to talk about the pain of childbirth, or the afflictions of life. Who rejoices in such painful experiences? Who finds anything to “brag about” in their tribulations? Paul says that believers do because they understand that those tribulations are a means to an end; they are never an end in themselves.
- Tribulations set off a series of growth experiences. As tribulations are endured, perseverance develops. From there, character follows and then moves to hope. When God is allowed to work, our worst moments have the potential to give us integrity like Jesus possessed. The hard times mirror His hard times and we become more and more like Him. In that process, we develop hopefulness that it exceeds the grief and pain of the tribulations.
- How does it help to know Paul wrote from experience, not from an ivory tower somewhere?
- What character traits do you possess that resulted from enduring tribulations?
- In what ways have you developed more hope than ever before?
PRAY: Pray that God will work through your tribulations to produce what is needed in your life. Ask God to walk with you through the tribulations so you don’t feel like you are on your own. Acknowledge God’s presence with you.