#DailyDevotion Rejoice When Suffering? Are You Mad?
Romans 53More than that, we also boast of our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces patient endurance, and patient endurance produces a genuine Christian character; and a genuine Christian character produces hope. 5In this hope we’re not disappointed, because the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us, poured God’s love into our hearts.
Is Paul crazy? Who on earth would rejoice in sufferings over and above the hope of the glory of God? It certainly isn’t easy and I don’t ever get there quickly is sometimes ever. Yet this is what St. Paul points us to do when experiencing suffering. For our suffering in Christ is not in vain.
When in the midst of suffering it is difficult to remember Paul’s promises here which can help if we do remember them. First, that suffering produces endurance. Each time we suffer in Christ we are strengthened a little bit more. While suffering we may wish God would just let us be a little weaker. But as the author of Hebrews reminds us, 125”And you have forgotten the encouragement spoken to you as sons: My son, don’t think lightly of the Lord’s training or give us when He corrects you. 6The Lord corrects whom He loves, and He whips everyone He accepts as His son. 7What you endure is to correct you. God is treating you as His sons.” And He says, 12 10”But He corrects us for our good, to have us share His holiness. 11While we’re being corrected, it always seems unpleasant and painful. But after we’ve been trained, correction gives us the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
This patient endurance our Father is working in us through suffering produces a genuine Christian character. A Christian character is one that is tried and proven in a time of need. Such character has integrity and can be depended on when times get rough. It will do what needs to be done when it is called upon for service. It will not falter when called to work, such was Peter after Pentecost and Paul during his hardships as a missionary and apostle.
This Christian character produces hope. Hope, that sure and certain, not wishful thinking, which gives us light as we travel throughout the darkness of the tunnel that there is a light at the end. That light is Christ and the resurrection to an eternal inheritance and the end of all suffering and pain. This hope does not disappoint us because the Holy Spirit poured God’s love into our hearts; he has poured Jesus into our hearts. We have the abiding presence of our LORD Jesus Christ even when we do not feel it. We may cry out with him, “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?” and continue to the hope found in the rest of Psalm 22, 24“For He did not despise or abhor the Sufferer’s suffering, nor hide His face from Him. But when He called to Him for help, He listened to Him.” Yes, our God hears our cries and dispatches to us the help we need. Our suffering is not our own but is Christ Jesus’ as Paul says in 2Cor. 15“As Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so Christ makes our comfort overflow.” As we suffer with Christ, so too God’s comfort will overflow in our hearts as well. We don’t go through it alone but with Jesus.
Almighty God and Father, your bring suffering into our lives to train us as your children so we may reach the fullness of your son Jesus Christ. May your Holy Spirit remind of your promises in the midst of suffering and may our ears be prepared to receive it through our fellow Christians that we may be comforted by them and your word. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.