Growing up in Nebraska, I vividly remember cold fall days, when the trees lost all their leaves, and dreading the much colder winter days that lay ahead. I hated fighting frostbite, scraping ice off windshields, shoveling snow, and being chilled to the bone. Maybe I’m too soft, but I never really understood it when friends say, “I love the changes of seasons, even the cold and snow.” When I hear things like this I’m thinking, “Are you crazy?”
I’ve heard some of the saints jokingly make similar comments about Paul’s testimony when he said, “…we glory in tribulation…” (Romans 5:3). Paul wasn’t insincere when saying this, nor had he been hit in the head with one too many rocks. He really meant it. Because he had come to realize that the pain of trials could bring real gain in his spiritual maturity, he chose to look at these difficult situations through the lens of faith. There were four reasons why Paul rejoiced in any trial that came his way. First, he had learned that “tribulation worketh [or produces] patience” (vs. 3b), which means an endurance. Just as hardship in exercise produces stronger muscles, hardship in life produces experiences where God carries you through and reminds you He can do so again. Secondly, “experience [produces] hope” (vs. 4b). Hope means a confident expectation. Trials endured through God’s grace bolster us with the confidence that we can face anything in the strength of the Lord. Thirdly, Paul glories in tribulation because he has learned that “hope maketh not ashamed” (vs. 5). The word “ashamed” means to disgrace or shame down. A believer need not be ashamed before the lost when demonstrating life-changing faith. Face trials with an endurance from God. Remember past victories through God’s grace. Then face current problems confidently, expecting God’s enablement. Finally, Paul glories in tribulation “because (through it all) the love of God is shed abroad on our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (vs. 5). Paul learned that he better sensed the love of God for him during times of trial than any other time. Perhaps this was so because of a greater quietness and dependence on the Lord.
You don’t have to be crazy to rejoice and glory in trials. You simply have to realize that the pain of hardships can produce real spiritual gain. Rejoice in God’s enablement through past trials and trust that He will enable you in whatever lies ahead.
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