3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Did you just read what you just read? Is God really serious here in His word, that we have the ability through Jesus to actually rejoice when we suffer hardship? Was Paul crazy when he told us to rejoice when we run into problems and trials? This passage flies in the face of those who preach a theology of health, wealth, and prosperity. For it is here that the bible clearly teaches us to expect to experience trials and tribulations. Not only does the Bible tell us to expect problems in our Christian walk but it goes a step further to tell us that God actually allows them. Now we often respond to hardships and trials by asking the question “Why” it is our first reaction and it’s by no means wrong. In fact God wants us to know why and so He clearly states it here in His Word. God allows difficulties because difficulties develop us. As much as we dislike the difficulties the truth is challenges can cultivate our character. When we move beyond the place of constantly questioning God to a place of confidence as we put our hope and trust in Him we discover that God is developing our character through the trials. It is this strength, this character that enables us to hope in Christ when our difficulties seem hopeless. We may not like the challenges but when we realize that they develop Christlikeness in us not only will we embrace the trials but we will rejoice in them. Peter mentions this very fact to the suffering Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. A group of churches that experienced severe suffering when Nero the emperor of Rome was persecuting thousands of Christians by imprisonment, starvation, and death. I Peter 1:6-9, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.” The truth is out trials can be a benefit and not just a burden, because they can work for us and not against us. But only we can determine the course. So what does Paul mean when he tells us to rejoice when we run into trials? It’s here that we need a good definition of the word rejoice. The Amplified Bible describes rejoicing as “being full of joy right now, it means to exult in the triumph of our troubles. There is something powerful and magnetic about people who praise in the midst of their problems. The opposite is also true, there is something that repels us when we run into the woe is me Christian. This is the person that has never learned the principle of giving God praise in the times of trial. If you ask a “woe is me Christian how they are doing they will always answer by giving priority to their problems instead of the praise. They will talk about their troubles and trials more than they will about God and His truth. After talking to a woe is me Christian for about 5 minutes, because 5 minutes is about all you will be able to handle, you will feel like all the life has just been sucked out of you. If you are not careful they will pull you into their pity party, because woe is me people never like to party on their own. Instead of inviting you to join them in the joy they will drag you down and drown you in their junk. Why do they do this? Because a woe is me Christian has bought into Satan’s lie that all is hopeless and so they have lost their ability to exult in joy at the coming triumph of their trials. Why doesn’t God just deliver us from difficulty and keep us from experiencing pain? Because trials develop us in three areas of our lives, the first is:
The truth about trails is that when you are face to face with a difficulty you are actually up against a discovery. Think over the times in your life when you have faced trials, it is during these trying times that you have probably discovered something life-changing about Jesus? An attribute of God that you can anchor your hope on, knowing that when you face further difficulty in the future God can be trusted. To endure is the ability to carry through despite the hardship. Sometimes God allows difficulties in our lives to develop our endurance and teach us not to quit. When we do we learn the life-changing lesson that God can be trusted through all our trials. Take some time to read the following poem:
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up, though the paced seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victors cup.
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down
How close he was to the golden crown
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
As a pastor, I often hear prayer requests to be delivered from difficulties, hardships, and trials. But often I can see the hand of God in them trying to teach the person something about themselves they never realized. Often it’s to trust Him in an area of their life they have never trusted Him in. Endurance teaches us quite confidence and trust in God. What about you do you have a proper perspective when it comes to trials do you see them as profitable or just as a problem?