Reading through Romans
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory. You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
A reading from Romans: Romans 5:3-5s (NLT)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
Reflection: Romans 5:3-5a (John Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World)
The results of justification (5: 1– 11)
The whole paragraph (verses 1– 11) depends on the opening words: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith.… Paul utters six bold assertions in the name of all whom God has justified.
d. We also rejoice in our sufferings (3– 8) Pt. 1 vs 3-5a
The ‘sufferings’ in mind are usually translated ‘tribulations’. These are not what we sometimes call ‘the trials and tribulations’ of our earthly existence, meaning our aches and pains, fears and frustrations, deprivations and disappointments, but rather thlipseis (literally, ‘pressures’), referring in particular to the opposition and persecution of a hostile world… the suffering which God’s people must expect in the last days before the end.
What attitude should Christians adopt to these ‘tribulations’? Far from merely enduring them with stoic fortitude, we are to rejoice in them. This is not masochism, however, the sickness of finding pleasure in pain. It is rather the recognition that there is a divine rationale behind suffering.
First, suffering is the one and only path to glory. It was so for Christ; it is so for Christians. As Paul will soon express it, we are ‘co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory’ (8: 17). That is why we are to rejoice in them both.
Secondly, if suffering leads to glory in the end, it leads to maturity meanwhile….
- Suffering produces perseverance (endurance)… because without suffering there would be nothing to endure.
- Perseverance produces character… the quality of a person who has been tested and has passed the test.
- Character produces hope… because the God who is developing our character in the present can be relied on for the future too.
Thirdly, suffering is the best context in which to become assured of God’s love. Of course many people will immediately assert the contrary, since it is suffering which makes them doubt God’s love. But consider Paul’s argument. He has traced the sequence of chain reactions from tribulation to perseverance, from perseverance to character, and from character to hope. Now he adds that hope does not disappoint us, and never will. It will never betray us by proving to be an illusion after all.
But how do we know this? What is the ultimate ground on which our Christian hope rests, our hope of glory? It is the steadfast love of God. The reason our hope will never let us down is that God will never let us down. His love will never give us up.
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen