“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
This passage holds very precious memories for me. When I was struggling as a new Christian, slowly moving away from a lifestyle of addiction and degeneracy, I was closer to living under a bridge than I ever was in my addictions. I was eating food from the church poor box, and friends who were on food stamps, despite their own challenges, were generously sharing with me. I was beginning to learn humility during some exceedingly difficult circumstances and was also learning to trust in God’s promises. This passage played a critical role in my life during that time and has continued to do so through the years.
Think about the complexity of the promise given, how tribulation produces hope when we walk with our Lord. No wonder we can take joy in tribulations of various sorts (see James 1:2-4 also). How appropriate for the present time and the shadows of what may be coming down the road. One of my favorite posters reminds me that “joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God.
Once again let me encourage you to keep your soul poised on God’s promises in difficult times. Those times will strengthen us, develop character in us and bring about hope that will not disappoint. Hallelujah! To quote the great sage, Alfred E. Neuman, “What, me worry?”
Shalom, Pastor Bill