“Through Him [Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 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 5:2-5)
Don’t Try to Make Your Suffering Produce Hope
A Meditation on Romans 5:2-5
Romans 5 says we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. What could make hope in the glory of God even better? How about more hope?
Good news: This passage also says God made a way for us to experience even more hope.
So how does our loving Father increase our hope?
Wait, what? “Suffering produces…hope.”
More good news: this passage is not an exhortation to rejoice in suffering. It doesn’t say, “We should rejoice in our suffering,” it says, “we rejoice in our suffering.” We find it happening in us, in spite of ourselves.
If you have your Bible-head screwed on properly, you may be thinking “OK, but there are plenty of exhortations in the Bible.” Yes. James 1 comes to mind: “Consider it pure joy, my brethren, when you face trials…” It’s worth meditating on how God uses exhortation to change us. But that’s for another time.
Here in Romans 5, it’s made clear that there’s only one reason why your suffering doesn’t snuff out your hope in God, but instead multiplies your hope in God:
The passage says “…hope does not put us to shame (fail us or let us down or evaporate under duress), because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
He pours His love into our hearts as we are suffering, through His Spirit, as a gift.
He pours. His love. By His Spirit.
This is not an obligation we must do, it’s an observation of something God does–a supernatural gift we receive. It’s not an exhortation, it’s an exultation.
It can be easy to read the Bible as one gigantic homework assignment. Or a character evaluation we are constantly failing. Have you been there? Me too.
Passages like this remind me that the Bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ, not a list of requirements I must meet.
We do not sustain ourselves, we are carried the whole way. “Underneath are the everlasting arms”.
So don’t try to make your suffering produce the fruit of hope. Instead, praise God for what He promised to do in you. It’s a gift.
Are storms blowing and beating against your house of faith, making it feel like it may collapse? If you are in Christ, this passage says you won’t lose hope in the glory of God. It can’t happen. But not because you will hold yourself together.
He will hold you together. He is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He is the giver and grower of hope. Because of the cross of Jesus, your suffering will give you more hope. God promised. He is faithful and He will do it.
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation, my honor, depend on Him.” (Psalm 62:5-7)