Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:1-5 NIV
We have been justified through faith and we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have gained access, by faith, into this grace in which we now stand and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Because of all that He has done for us, we can rejoice even in the midst of pressure, persecution, trouble and anguish. The word in verse 3 rendered “tribulations” in the KJV and “sufferings” in the NIV actually means “pressure” – literally or figuratively. The KJV translates this word in various scriptures as “afflicted/affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, and trouble.”
When people see the word “suffering” one of the first things they think of is sickness. There is a fallacy in religious circles that sickness and disease and calamities are good things and that they are good for us. The fallacy is that they are sent from God to teach us and to punish us. I wish they would make up their mind on which one it is! Teaching and punishing are opposites. One assumes that there is hope, the other that there is none. In reality, this opinion and all this “suffering” come straight from the gates of hell. You must be either brain-damaged or religiously brainwashed to think that bad things are good. Good is good and bad is bad. We need to wake up and realize that bad gifts are bad – not good – and that they do not come from God.
We believe that God is in control and He can do anything He wants to, but He has made it very plain, in His word, that He does not give us bad gifts and that He has given us the authority in the earth. He allows what we allow. He does not override or violate the choices we make.
We live in this earth full of sin and death – stuff happens to us – we encounter bad people and bad situations. People like to use Paul as an example of someone who endured sickness for God’s glory. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Paul mentions all his problems. He does not mention sickness or disease one time. The suffering he endured, the thorn in his side (mentioned in 2 Cor 12:7) was sent from the devil not God. It consisted of persecution, beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, hunger, cold, heat, lack and betrayals among other things, and yet God was with him and He was on his side and He brought him out every time. We don’t have control over the external influences that come to try to destroy us, but we can choose how we deal with them – we can choose life and blessing (Deut 30:19).
If hard things alone made you a better person then every body would be in a great place in their life and attitude, but we know that this is not the case. Many times, the hard things people have gone through have made them angry, bitter and resentful toward God and others. Many times, even people who claim that God made them suffer for their own good are actually angry with Him underneath their martyr façade. They have a victim mentality – which is very counter-productive.
We all go through hard things. This is not necessarily the end of your world. The hard things you go through can – in the end – teach you perseverance. You can learn and grow – and be better off – or you can whine and give up and end up full of bitterness and resentments. The hard things you go through don’t make you a better person – you (with God’s help) make yourself a better person, even in the middle of the hard things, by your own choices. Choose to endure, choose to win and not give up, and choose to have a positive attitude. Jesus is your only example – follow Him.
So how do you come through hard things – with a good attitude – having learned perseverance?
- Know that God is on your side – pull in closer to Him – submit to Him in all things.
- Know that the devil is your problem – resist him at all times.
- Realize that you have the choice.
- Maintain a humble, teachable spirit.
- Find out what God’s word says about your situation.
- Do exactly what it says.
The Lord makes the way of escape – He is the way out of every situation (1 Corinthians 10:13).