“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
Paul is saying that we not only rejoice in our salvation but we can also rejoice in sufferings. Why? Because suffering produces perseverance (patience, endurance) that when we suffer, we learn to endure, to persevere, to keep on keeping on; endurance is “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity. Or the act of enduring suffering.” It means steadfastness, constancy and “staying under.” When we endure, remain under, withstand suffering and persevere, this produces character. Character is “proven character”, maturity of character, moral excellence. It is character that has been tested and proven strong. Proven character produces hope (joyful, confident hope of eternal salvation) the expectation of good. When suffering tests us and our character is proven strong and real, that gives us hope. We know we are His. Our faith is proven genuine. This makes me think of a recent quote from Rick Warren, “I have never felt closer to Christ, more loved by Christ, and more confident in Christ than since my son’s tragic death.” His endurance of suffering, the testing of his character, has produced hope in his life.
Most of us tend to fear suffering. We fear pain and loss. I know I do. Yet, it is when we endure suffering that our character is proven strong and results in great hope. We see our faith is real because we know we could not have endured the suffering with strengthened character apart from God’s love poured into our lives. He is our endurance. He is our character. He is our hope.
Thank you Father that I don’t have to fear suffering. I know that whatever you allow in my life, you will give me the strength to endure and as I endure, you will test my character and my faith will be proven. I trust in your Sovereign grace.