Life can be harsh, sometimes. There are unexpected twists, turns, and fastballs….fastballs that can come so hard that they knock you down. And getting knocked down is not so bad when you can, quickly, figure out how to get back up, but getting back up can, sometimes, be a lot easier said than done. It’s easy to get discouraged in those times. It’s human to get discouraged in those times. Being a believer doesn’t mean that you never get discouraged. Being a believer means that you don’t stay discouraged, because you know that God is always working in your favor. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11
Even knowing that, there are times when we become resentful of our trials and tribulations. We wonder why God allows us to go through the things we go through. We wonder what we’ve done to deserve such hard trials. We, sometimes, even wonder if God is still listening to our prayers. We find it difficult to enjoy life at these times. I mean… who can rejoice when the entire bottom has fallen out of their life? But, Paul challenges us, in Romans, to do just that.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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.” ~Romans 5:1-5
Paul tells us here that we should glory in our sufferings. What does the word “glory” mean in this context? It’s used as a verb here, which is not the way we normally see it used. The word glory, as a verb, means “to exult with triumph; rejoice proudly”. Another definition is “to boast”. So…wait. I’m supposed to not only, stay encouraged in my tribulation, but I’m supposed to rejoice proudly…even to the point of boasting?! What is there to boast about?! Have you seen my life, lately?! No. But I’ve had a look at Paul’s and if he can say this while he was, literally, being persecuted for the Gospel, we can too. Paul and James, both, give us reasons why we should rejoice. Paul said we should rejoice because we know that suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character. And character produces hope and hope will never put us to shame. I like how the NKJ version says that “hope does not disappoint”.
James gave us another reason why we should rejoice in tribulation. He said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~James 1:2-4 So…wait. My trials and tribulations are helping to mature me? No. It’s the perseverance that you gain through your trials that help to make you mature and complete. Your trials are just a means to an end. And the end is a better you! So, rejoice! I know it’s not easy. I know you’re at the end of your rope. I know it seems like it’s never going to end. But it will! God is working something in you. He has not forgotten about you. You will come out of this…whatever it is…a better you if you figure out a way to glory while you’re in it. So, rejoice today! A better you is on the way!