“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 ESV.
In the world in which we live, we are faced with many trials and tribulations. Whether it is COVID-19, homelessness, or the loss of a loved one, we all have experienced some form of suffering. Suffering is a part of everyday life and the Bible tells us, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” Hebrews 12:12 (KJV). Remember that as you walk before the Lord and allow him to direct your path – regardless of the suffering that you may experience – He will give you victory to endure and maintain your focus.
The Bible acts as a mirror that lets you see what’s really inside yourself. And as I read Paul’s words to the church in Rome, I sensed that we should rejoice in suffering and we should count it all as joy when we fall in the Devil’s temptation. However, Paul tells us what embracing suffering leads to when we suffer for Jesus’ sake.
First, understand that Paul is talking about productive suffering, which means an “oppressive state of physical, mental, social, or economic adversity” for advancing the Gospel. It’s about embracing the discomfort that comes with living faithfully in Jesus, no matter how mild or extreme. Paul explains in Philippians 1:12–14: “Everything that has happened to me has helped me spread the gospel.” Thus, some of our suffering is necessary to help us advance in the Gospel and to bring glory to God.
Why is suffering necessary? Because it leads to a chain reaction of spiritual depth and growth. Check it out. Paul tells us:
- Suffering leads to endurance…
- Endurance leads to character…
- Character leads to hope…
We, as Christians and believers, view our suffering differently. We see physical, mental, social, or economic persecution as proof that we are making headway against hell. Satan doesn’t want people to have eternal life in Jesus, so he wages war against us through the world’s established systems.
As Christians, our radically different mindset about suffering and discomfort creates gritty endurance. Productive suffering gives us the ability and strength to keep moving, even when we want to give up and throw in the towel. God gives us grace to endure suffering so that we may endure the many hardships that may come our way. This endurance then, produces character that is battle-tested, showing us that yes, we are in fact becoming more like Jesus! “We will grow in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control” Galatians 5:22–23.
…”and this Christ-likeness creates a hope that Jesus is who He says He is… will do what He’s promised… and we have eternal life hidden in Him.” Colossians 3:3
Friends, let’s renew our minds and our spirits by embracing the discomfort that comes with following Jesus. That’s the refining fire.