We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope - Romans 5:3-4
Who wouldn’t like to be more optimistic in life? In this short passage found in Romans, the Apostle Paul tells us how.
Suffering is a fact of life. No matter how careful we are to make good choices in life, there is no escaping the reality of pain.
Our innate tendency as humans is to indulge in this suffering. To feel sorry for ourselves. To blame the world for our misery. To feel like a victim.
Paul tells us that not only should we not feel like a victim, but that we should rejoice in our sufferings because it is through this suffering that we are able to cultivate optimism in the form of hope.
He tells us that suffering produces endurance (also translated as perseverance or patience).
Endurance produces character (also translated experience).
And character produces hope. Hope can be thought of as an optimistic outlook on life, or better yet, as a faithful expectation of God’s blessings.
It’s easy to be hopeful when things are good. It comes natural. But just as surely as the sun sets each night, good times eventually turn to bad. However, Paul tells us that what seems bad from our perspective is a mechanism for good in the hands of God.
In the same way that a muscle must be broken down and pushed to its limit in order to grow back stronger, the only way for our faith to be strengthened is by enduring truly difficult times.
We oftentimes have zero control over the events that cause us to suffer. But we have complete control over how we choose to react to these events. If we follow Paul’s advice and aim to rejoice in our suffering by recognizing it as an opportunity to strengthen our faith, then we will have eliminated suffering’s control over us.