Jessica Albritton, NextGen Minister LHBC

Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

When I think about suffering I can’t help but think of the apostle Paul. Paul truly knew what it meant to suffer for his faith. Paul grew up as a good Jewish boy. He was a teacher and leader of the faith, a pharisee. He was religiously astute, came from the right bloodline, he followed the law to the letter. Everything about Paul was good and blameless from the world’s perspective. But he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and his world was turned upside down. Paul began to tell everyone he encountered about this man named Jesus who came to die for the sins of man. 

Pauls’ decision to follow Christ came at a high cost. Following Jesus cost him his status, his reputation, and ultimately his life. In sharing his faith Paul on multiple occasions was beaten, arrested, run out of town, and imprisoned. Paul truly suffered because of his decision to follow Jesus. 

Suffering for the gospel is interwoven throughout scripture. The Bible tells us to not grow weary when we face hardships and even promises we will encounter trials. Romans 5 goes as far as to say we are to rejoice in suffering. I don’t know about you but the last thing I want to do when in the middle of a hardship is rejoice. But when the Bible tells us to rejoice it’s not telling us to celebrate the pain, its encouraging believers to look for the good, to set our minds on God’s long-term goal. Philippians 4:4 tells us to “rejoice in the Lord always.” In a moment of suffering it’s easy to get caught up and focus on the bad, but as a believer we should instead look to see what the Lord intends to do with that pain. 

The pain that we endure for the gospel is not meant to defeat us, it is meant to grow us and strengthen our relationship with Jesus. Often in the midst of a trial we can only see the chaos but once the storm has passed we can look back and see the hand of God moving. Trials for the sake of the gospel are not to harm us. The Lord loves us enough to take us where we never wanted to go in order to produce in us what we never could have achieved on our own.

God desires for all believers is to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him and to walk confidently with Him. When we grow in our walk with the Lord we become better witnesses of Him, and we also learn to lean on Him more fully. God could eliminate all the suffering in the world if He so wanted to, but the truth of the matter is God is far more concerned with developing our endurance, character, and hope than He is concerned with our comfortability. 

It’s often said in the Christian walk you are either headed for a storm, in the middle of a storm, or just coming out of one. Regardless of where you find yourself today, rest in the knowledge that it is not in vain. The pain will last a moment but the hope of Jesus that’s being cultivated will last for all of eternity!

Heavenly Father, Your word tells us that You work all things together for the good of those that love you, including the pain and hardships we go through. Lord, help me to suffer well and when I find myself distracted by the chaos of the suffering help me to rejoice in you instead of wallowing in self-pity. In Jesus name, amen!

Hosea 6:3
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
    Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
    or the coming of rains in early spring.”