God’s Purpose in Our Pain

Photo By Mark Jefferson

Note to readers: For those of you who haven’t received my newsletter for a long time, it’s probably because my brain tumor has prevented me from being able to write or post anything. This newsletter represents my 1st attempt since the end of May. With your prayers, a lot of patience and God’s grace, I will resume a regular schedule as I am able.

Romans 5:3-5

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

We all have experienced times of testing where our faith is examined, usually, in a very painful way. During these times we often ask God what He is doing or why this is happening. We may realize our faith is being tested, but we would really like to know how we are doing on the test. Fortunately for us, the Bible does exactly that. Today’s section from Romans is one example. Take a moment and think about the sequence in today’s verses from Romans 5. It starts out, verse 3 implies that something very important has just been discussed. Paul has begun a section on the wonderful gifts that are part of the package we received along with the gift of Christ’s righteousness when we were saved. Let’s look at the sequence again. The righteousness of God has been manifested in an unprecedented way, and it has nothing to do with the law or man’s performance. It is simply through faith in Jesus Christ. So, the 1st step is that we receive Jesus’ very own righteousness simply though faith. Having received this wonderful gift we are ready to receive everything else that is connected with this. Now, let’s return to the tribulations in verse 3. The apostle Paul is urging his readers to take a new look at their tribulations. God has the big picture in mind and He sees the end of the painful process we are going through. He reminds his readers that they should consider the glory that will someday follow on the heels of their current tribulations. In other words, perseverance will reap great rewards so don’t give up. Back to the sequence: it all starts with persevering thru our trials with our eyes on the prize in the end. The more we persevere in the face of our difficulties the more God molds our character into one resembling Him. This is why we must share in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering. Once we see that our character is truly being built, our hope grows as we anticipate what else God has for us if we will simply persevere.

What test are you currently engaged in? Is your perseverance increasing? Would those who know you well, say your character is maturing? Are you becoming more hopeful? Are you passing the test? If not, what changes do you need to make?

I urge you to take a little time thinking about this sequence. The more we know about what awaits us the more hopeful we can be in the midst of our pain. Once the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit during our trials, we really do become changed. I wish I could say this all falls smoothly into place, but I can say from personal experience that you will have to fight your way thru this. Whatever you are going through, try to see God’s bigger picture. It still might be a little fuzzy, but it is filled with hope, and who couldn’t use more of that?

Perseverance → Character → Hope