Pandemic Perspective – Part 69 Joy in the Junk – Part 2
Romans 5:3-5 “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.”
Verse three reminds us of our response; rejoicing, it is the power of praise that allows us to triumph over our troubles. The English word tribulation comes from the Latin word tribulum, a heavy timber or board set with flint or metal teeth used for threshing grain. It was the teeth that separated the good grain from the chaff, just as suffering separates the superficial chaff from the seed. Today suffering often comes as a shock because we don’t expect to suffer, we are astonished at affliction but 1 Peter 4:12 reminds us: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” Suffering is not strange but common place for the Christian. We may pray for a problem free life or even demand a pass on persecution, but problems have a purpose. Philippians 1:29 says: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” Yet how many of us shy away from serving the Savior through suffering? Today I fear we are more interested in being rewarded as Christians than recognized as them. Am I rejoicing in the rubbish James 1:2 says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” 1 Peter 4:13: “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ.” Do I have jubilation in the tribulation? In Acts 5:41 we are told that “the apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” Instead of whining they worshipped, instead just surviving suffering they were singing through it. Paul reminds us that we rejoice in our sufferings because we know, not we guess or feel, but we are sure in our suffering that He will sanctify. Pain has a purpose, trials teach, tough times work for us not against. Paul says suffering produces perseverance which means to bear up under, so when you pray for patience don’t be surprised if you end up enrolled in the school of suffering. Some of God’s greatest blessings are poured out in bitter cups. Ask Joseph and he’ll point to prison, John can point to Patmos, or Daniel who learned his lesson in lion’s den. But perseverance is not the end product for it enrolls us in the class of Christian character. God is more concerned with us being holy than He is with us being happy. He is more committed to our character development than our comfort. We may want to make it about comfort and convenience, yet His primary concern is conforming us to the image of His Son. Character development occurs in the currents of challenging circumstances not the protective paddling pool of a problem free life. Character then serves to strengthen our confident hope; even in our hurt we are not without hope. This is a hope that does not disappoint, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. Many today are disappointed and disillusioned because life has not lived up to their expectations, but Holy Spirit hope never disappoints. Our greatest longing is love and God has lavishly poured out His love into our lives. Biblical hope is built on the confident expectation that you will not be disappointed. Disappointment is often the result of a failure in focus, things may not have gone your way, but they have gone His. Suffering is the secret reminder that God loves us. We may long to study the pages of pleasure but it’s in the school of suffering that causes us to shine. Today are you shunning the school of suffering or surrendering to what He wants to teach you?