Suffering (Part 1 of 4), Perseverance, Character, and Hope
Today I feel that the Holy Spirit is guiding me to start a new series about perhaps one of the most ubiquitous topics that we face on a day-to-day basis. Specifically, this topic focuses on both suffering and perseverance and their critical importance in our lives, particularly as Christians living in an increasingly broken world. Throughout this first entry (1 of 4 in series) I will attempt to provide linkages between suffering and perseverance, relying on God’s Word, in order to emphasize their respective levels of significance in the Christian life.
To begin, I will identify what the Scriptures tell us regarding the value that suffering has in the Christian life.
The relevant Scriptural Text here comes from Romans 5:3-5 where it tells us the following:
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Nobody that I know takes pleasure in the experience that suffering delivers. Oppositely, I would argue that the vast majority of the human race do whatever they can to avoid/escape the form of suffering that confronts them. For clarity, Dictionary.com defines suffering as follows:
Suffering (verb: used with object)- to undergo, be subjected to, or endure (pain, distress, injury, loss, or anything unpleasant)
Based on the above definition of suffering, one can ascertain that suffering truly is something that humans would logically seek to do what they can to either avoid and/or evade altogether.
Taking the aforementioned into consideration, it certainly seems counter-intuitive that somehow suffering acts as the very catalyst for wonderful things, like the virtue of perseverance, to be developed and eventually perfected through glorification (Romans 8:30). This is one of those awesome paradoxes which enable Christians to reap beautiful spiritual blessings from the virtue of perseverance.
I believe that Romans 8:28 more closely explains this seemingly paradoxical connection between suffering and perseverance:
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
When this Scriptural Text says, “…all things…” it means absolutely everything without question! Our Omnipotent God is capable of redeeming even the most wicked of sufferings “…for the good of those who love Him”. In other words, although life is unfair and at times it may seem hopeless for those in the midst of terrible forms of suffering, Christians are able to take refuge in this unfailing and steadfast promise that God has reassuringly provided for us in His Word!
To my dismay, certain individuals within Christian Culture and even those from particular Christian Circles like to espouse the belief that born-again Christians are somehow exempt from suffering. This cannot be further from the truth, however. The Christian life certainly does not promise a painless and suffering-free life, but rather God’s Promise in His Word tells us that absolutely 0% of our sufferings will be in vain(Romans 8:28). The implication for believers is that our sufferings provide sanctification for us throughout our journeys of faith where we are able to be progressively conformed to the Image of Christ Jesus (Romans 8:29).
Stay tuned for next week where I will continue this discussion by delving into the topic surrounding perseverance and its important role in the Christian life.
May everyone have a blessed week!
Dear Heavenly Father,
May this post as well as future posts from this new series edify, encourage, and uplift other believers so that Christ’s Body may be strengthened despite any forms of suffering that our futures as believers may hold. Help us to cling close to You and to hold fast to Your remarkable Promise from Romans 8:28!
In Jesus’ Blessed Name, I pray, Amen!