And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope… (Romans 5:3-4)
These are amazing words. Paul does not write the “we endure tribulations,” but that “we glory in tribulations.” How can this be?
It is because the tribulation is producing something. It is producing “patience” (perseverance), “experience” (proven character), and “hope.” He alludes to the same idea in 2 Corinthians 4:17:
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Think about it. What does God do when we enter a time of trial and cry out to Him for help?
“The righteous cry and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17 )
Just as we come to the aid of our children when they cry out for help, so does He come to our aid! Remember the disciples in the storm?
“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:37-39)
Or course, God comes in His perfect time, which we usually think is way too late! He has purposes in His “delays.” (One of which is to enable us to develop the character qualities of patience, endurance, perseverance, persistence, etc.) But, in one way or another, He always delivers His children.
So here’s the pattern: We are cruising along in life. Things seem to be going pretty well. Suddenly, we find ourselves smack in the middle of a crisis! In alarm, we cry out to God. And in His time, He delivers us.
Once again, we cruise along for awhile, then run into another crisis. Again, we cry out to God. Again, He delivers us.
After we experience His deliverance a few times, we begin to grow steadier during the crisis. We realize, “God has always seen me through this far. I expect that He will see me through this one too!”
Eventually we get to the place where we realize that God has developed perseverance, proven character, and an unshakable hope in us. We know that He will deliver us through every crisis, including the last great crisis that involves our physical demise! We begin to look at the events of this life more from the perspective of eternity, like He does.
It may be a little like a horse that has never been ridden. I suspect that the first time his owner gets upon his back, the horse is filled with sheer terror! But as time goes on, the horse realizes that his master is not out to kill him. He finally gains confidence in his master and the terror is gone.
So if you’re going through the fire now, be sure that you allow it to accomplish these purposes in you! It will give you great peace now, and enable you to handle the next crisis with much more confidence!
“And then one day, I’ll cross that river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.
And then when death gives way to Victory,
I’ll see the lights of Glory and I’ll know He lives!
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone!
Because I know (I know!) He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives!”