Romans 5:3a And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations…. (NKJV)
Life can get really tough sometimes. Have you ever had a time when it just seems like troubles are waiting at the foot of your bed when you wake up in the morning? For all but a very rare few, most people will go through times in their life when it seems that joy will have to be something that only heaven will bring. Life can be heavy, sad and a real burden. That doesn’t sell books, but it’s reality.
Sometimes it feels like joy will only come after we get to heaven.
In this modern age of “form over substance” we have lots of ways of denying, escaping or covering up the hardship of life. Entertainment, drugs and pleasure allow a large portion of the world to continue day after day numbed from their pain. Positive-thinking-health-wealth-prosperity peddlers deceive both the world and the church in record numbers, leading the masses to believe that materialism and the “abundant life” (speaking of health and finances) are the key to overcoming the burden of a sin-cursed world.
True hope and encouragement can only be found in the reality of God because the truth is that this world is bad and getting badder (excuse the grammar, but you get my point). When your spirit is sensitized by holiness and God’s Word, you become acutely aware that the world as a whole is barreling headlong into increasing wickedness, “as if in the days of Noah” (Matt 24.37-38). This goes against some of our modern Christian teaching that proclaims this world will be “won for Christ ” before Jesus will return. The Bible plainly declares that before our Lord appears, mankind will once again be at the pinnacle of wickedness.
Genesis 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (NKJV)
It does not take an analytical genius to look around and see that the human race is becoming alarmingly ungodly, from entire nations to individuals. Nations suffers at the hands of other nations, or peoples at the hand of their own rulers. People suffer at the hands of other people; not only from the proudly wicked, but also sadly from the hand of those who outwardly profess Christ… families torn apart, friendships destroyed, generations embittered and churches divided.
How do Christians have hope in an
increasingly hopeless world?
How is the true Christian to live, function, grow and have hope in a world full of increasing suffering and trouble? Well, I don’t have any magic formulas, “seven steps”, “10 Keys” or other gimmicks but I do have God’s Word. So let’s look at a passage that specifically addresses how to not only live in this troubled world, but to “glory” in it.
Romans 5:1-4 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. (NKJV)
Therefore having been justified by faith….
The Apostle Paul presented clearly in the first four chapters of Romans that man is justified by faith alone. Justification is a legal act declaring us righteous based on Christ’s payment of our penalty for sin. The construction of this verse declares that our justification in Christ is a one-time event with ongoing results. We are declared righteous once and for always… and the results of this declaration continue on and on no matter how evil the world becomes, or how hard life can be.
…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…
This peace is much more than an internal sense of calmness or tranquility. It is an objective, external peace that has been obtained because of our justification. This peace is unaffected by circumstances or the wickedness of the world. This peace is a FACT because we have been declared righteous by the blood of Christ. Whether or not we avail ourselves of this peace does not change the fact of it. God has granted us the potential of peace despite anything the world can throw at us.
…through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand…
Another result of this justification is that we now have access to the Throne of God which was previously unavailable (and unthinkable!). A Holy God could not be approached by sinful man until Christ bridged the infinite chasm between. Not only do we now have access to God through Jesus, but we now “stand” by grace. “Stand” refers to our secure and permanent position with God because of what Jesus accomplished.
…and rejoice in hope of the glory of God…
Because of Christ, we are declared righteous and thereby at peace with God allowing us to stand secure in His presence… all of which gives us HOPE. This is not just some good feeling that may come or go; this hope has no uncertainty and no conditions. The “hope” in this verse speaks of something that is supremely certain, that is known for sure, and can be counted on. It is a hope of something not yet attained, but without doubt will be.
We WILL experience the glory of God because
its certainty has been determined by Christ, not by us.
…And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations…
Given all of these facts, we can not only endure tribulations, we can “glory” in them; we can have hope; we can take joy that there is purpose and benefit even when life is hardest.
The tribulations spoken of here are like increasing pressure. Picture a steamroller moving about one inch a day over a bunch of grapes laying in the road. Tribulations of life are like the slowly increasing pressure and strain of being crushed by a sin-cursed world. Not a pretty picture, but because of Christ, the Christian can “glory” in this pressure, not just endure it.
…knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.…
As Christians, we can glory not only in the fact that we are declared righteous and can stand secure in God’s presence, but also because suffering is beneficial for those who love God. Our faithful God has determined that all things work for our good, even tribulations (Rom 8.28).
We glory in our suffering (especially when it is directly for serving Christ) because it produces in us an ability to endure and overcome; which cultivates Godly character, and the result of that character is hope.
Let’s see if we can put that in a nutshell: As a Christian you have been declared righteous because of Christ; you are at peace with God, you have access to God, and you stand secure with God; because of that, you can can glory when life’s hardships become overwhelming, because you will become strong and develop great character; all of which works to produce hope.
And hope is what allows us to press on each day. Hope of glory, hope of eternal life, hope of eternity with God. Jesus Christ is the reason for that hope and that is why it is so important to share Christ with a dying, hopeless world. If the Holy Spirit dwells in you, this hope is available to you:
Romans 5:5 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. (NKJV)
The hope that comes from Christ does not disappoint! It is poured out into our hearts.
The external, factual truth of justification
allows us to have the internal, emotional reality
of hope in a hopeless world.
When life threatens to grind you to dust and it seems that joy and happiness don’t exist for you anymore… remember the FACTS about who and what you are in Christ. You are declared righteous, you have access to God, you stand secure in His presence, you can “glory” in your suffering because of the holy character it produces in you… and you can have HOPE based on Christ regardless of circumstances.
Father, Help us to turn life’s troubles into glory! Thank you for the hope You have given us, that sustains us each and every day. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: How do you view the hardships of life? Does tribulation cause you to glory? Or be bitter? Does tribulation result in hope for you? Or hopelessness?
Application: Life tries to lie to us and convince us that there is no hope and no reason to “press on”. God’s Word tries to teach us the FACTS about who and what we are to God. God’s Word gives us hope based on absolute truth. Turn to God’s Word when life gets you down. Believe God.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?