“not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,” [romans 5:3]
“we rejoice in our sufferings”… can you imagine what paul’s readers would have thought as they heard that phrase for the first time? probably very similar to my reaction the first time i read this verse, “rejoice in what??” rejoicing in suffering is so backward to the world and stands in complete opposition to our flesh. all our lives we’re told by our culture to pursue what we want, to pursue what makes us happy. we’re fed a “gospel” of selfishness and self-idolatry so reading this for the first time is a shock to our flesh. the gospel stands in opposition to our flesh and to the world. it calls us above, it calls us to Jesus, and it calls us to live a life that’s different.
this is the life that we’re called to as believers, lives that stand out and look different from the world around us, lives that look so much like Jesus that cause us to be persecuted and suffer for the sake of the gospel.
but here, we have this hope, the promise of joy and endurance as we suffer for Jesus in the gospel. paul shifts our focus here not to the temporal, but to the eternal, to the hope we have in Jesus.
this is how we rejoice in our suffering. this is how we stand firm as we are persecuted for following Jesus. we take our eyes off of this world and fix them on the one who is our hope and is our joy. by lifting our eyes to the one who has gone before us, who has suffered, who has sacrificed and who through all his suffering and sacrifice, endured, and not only that, endured with joy. by running to Jesus and setting our hope firmly, this is how we not only endure suffering, but rejoice in our suffering.
so as you face suffering, as you face persecution, when you’re demeaned, made fun of or slandered for following Jesus, rejoice! rejoice in the hope of the gospel, the promise of Jesus, Emmanuel – God with us. rejoice and rest today in the presence of Jesus and in this hope and truth here in romans:
“not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” [romans 5:3-5]
~ josiah bridges