Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Aaaahh...the month of November. The month when we stop and reflect on the blessings we have received this year and thank God, family and friends for their support throughout the year by stuffing our faces with delicious food!
You might even be seeing friends and family post on social media something they are thankful for each day. It is the month that we are grateful for the house we live in, the spouse we are married to, the job that pays the bills, the family member that makes those really good pumpkin pies or the friend that answers her phone at any hour when you need to have a good cry.
But have you stopped to be thankful for hard and difficult things? Have you thanked God for that stressful situation or that impossible circumstance you saw no way out of earlier this year?
We are not generally thankful for these things, are we?
We would rather forget about them and brush them under the rug. In fact it makes us all the more excited about the upcoming New Years celebration so we can forget about it and make sure that never happens again.
But look at the scripture above, Romans 5:3-4. It says we glory in our sufferings. What? Glory? What does that even mean? Well according to the online Merriam Webster Dictionary glory means "Something that secures praise, a height of prosperity or achievement" and after that you'll even see the word "thanksgiving" there to describe the word glory.
Ok, you might have had a few glory days this year but it certainly was not when your husband walked out on you or when you fought with your family member and didn't speak to them for months. There was no glory in having to deal with that problem in your house which turned your world upside down with renovations and enormous expense. You wouldn't glory in the fact that you got laid off this year or that you or someone you know came down with a terrible diagnosis. No, for those things, there is no glory. Or is there?
I think we are missing something very important. Nothing that happens to us "gets by" God without Him knowing it was coming. We might not have known it was coming, but He certainly did.
Everything good AND bad thing serves a purpose. What purpose is there in pain you might ask? There is either a lesson to be learned or a strength being grown in our hearts we are unaware of.
First comes the suffering, its purpose is to produce perseverance and in the amplified version of this verse it is called patient endurance. You might not have prayed for patience this year but looking back you might have seen it grow through the trial as you waited for God to come through and endured under the hardship.
Sometimes God acts quickly and other times it is a process. But during this season you also develop character which is also described as spiritual maturity. You see every hardship and difficulty serves a purpose. It's purpose is meant to grow you in one form or fashion to better equip you for all the future challenges life hands your way. Then ultimately you have birthed in the process, 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 5:5.
Again in the amplified version of Romans 5:3-4, it doesn't just stop at hope it describes the ultimate outcome of the hardship as "hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation].".
So stop and be thankful for the patient endurance, spiritual maturity and confident hope that comes as a result. Perhaps you are in the middle of your trial right now and it is hard to see these growing in you when the situation seems dark and difficult. Ask God to help you stop and take notice of when these moments of growth happen, He is faithful and He will do it and show you your progress along the way. Besides, being grateful for the trials in our lives makes us that much more appreciative of the good times!
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Cor. 4:17