Suffering or as it is translated “Tribulations,” which speak of distress can come in various sizes, intensities and length of time and are  painful such as the loss of a loved one, the heartache of a rebellious family member or friend, the illness that is chronic, the bad news a Dr delivers that death is imminent. The bankruptcy, the papers been served for a divorce, the being laid off from work wondering how you will make needs meet and feed the family. Countless pressures that are not uncommon among all in any society. Indeed some societies there is the issue of clean water, having to walk miles to get some and bring back. For the disabled in those places, often forsaken, isolated. There are those who have labored hard in the Gospel and returned to their own country and forgotten upon arrival and little or no means to take care of themselves. There are those who suffer ridicule in their jobs for their allegiance to Christ. Passed over for promotion and mocked, the but of jokes that everyone finds funny but them, as though they have no feeling. There are those imprisoned for the cause of Christ, suffering, tortured, some even losing their lives, dying alone, unknown to the masses yet known by Him. So, how do you get to the place where you can rejoice in your sufferings? or is that just a nice thought, a nice Sunday school lesson,but so so far out of touch with “the real world,” that it does not register in the thought process when troubles hit the fan!

For the person who has no personal relationship with God through the LORD Jesus Christ, whose mind is darkened who cannot understand the things of God because they do not have the Holy Spirit within to illumine Christ to them and illumine His Word to give His perspective and power, these things are foolish, moronic.  But for the child of God who has been born again of the Spirit of God, who has been gifted the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth and empower them to love out this truth as they yield to his authority and apply his Word, it is not only possible but a reality. A Supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the person. – {Read John 16:14; Phil 2:13; 2 Peter 1:3-4;Phil 4:19}.

But yet at times we are surprised, shocked when suffering, tribulations, trials and troubles come our way, as if this should not be happening if we are Christians.  We think somehow we should get a “pass,” be exempt. Peter answers this, ” Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;  but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”-{1 Peter 4:12-13}. He tells them “do not be surprised” and goes on to say what to do “keep on rejoicing!”  James said “when” not “if” but “when you encounter trials of various kinds.” Trials are to be expected, they are inevitable! So we are to EXPECT THEM! That can be a shock to some peoples system, but as we see from Scripture they are part and parcel of life and the Christians’s life, Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” -{John 16:13 NLT} .Paul was chosen to suffer… Paul told the Philippians, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,“-{Phil 1:29}. Paul informed Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”- { 2 Tim 3:12}. It’s inevitable. the difference for the follower of Christ is we have hope, we have a knowledge of what is happening that is grounds for our rejoicing.

Paul wrote, “And not only this, but we also exult 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 5:3-5}.

The word “KNOWING” means “TO BE FULLY AWARE.”  It is a knowing that God gives us upon our being justified, it is not a progressive knowing but a knowing of the fact, right now and in every suffering you have the “inside” information and you are “fully aware.”How wonderful  God is not playing “hide and seek” with us in trying to find out what He is doing in our trials, tribulations but wants us to assuredly know to be “Fully aware” and He has given and graciously preserved His Word down the generations for you and me and all His followers to be “fully aware” and draw comfort and strength us and know what HE IS DOING! God has a purpose in our sufferings. He will work them for good, for our temporal and eternal good!

So how can you get to the place where you are rejoicing in your suffering? 

The word “rejoicing, exulting” in them, is literally “boasting or glorying…”

 We can Get There Because

  •  We are “FULLY AWARE” of what God is doing… shaping our character  to conform and develop Christ-likeness in us and in this passage HE is doing it through… 4 Things…He is…

1.Producing Perseverance in us –

Some translations say “patience.” The Greek word literally means, “To Abide under, to remain under pressure.”The Greek word,” hypomone” speaks of steadfastness, endurance, constancy.

“Hupomone” is the ability to keep working, keep going in the face of  great opposition and obstacles. It speaks of someone who is under a great load and yet continues on, it describes the character of one who will not or does not allow a person to surrender to difficult circumstances and trials. It has a forward look, like the LORD Jesus, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”-{Hebrews 12:2}. The future Joy encouraged Him to “endure.”

“Hupomone” is also translated “patience,” and describes a person who bears up or remains under trials in a God honoring way. There is a triumph to it “knowing” that God is at work producing a Godly character trait. It perseveres and will not give up or quit, and does this with a triumphant hope filled attitude. It deals triumphantly in whatever trials or life bring to the person. The person doesn’t quit, they keep on going. They are not turned aside by suffering, tribulations but continue on…consistently and persistently so.

It’s been said that the one who perseveres uses the suffering, tribulation as stepping stones!

You need perseverance when you are under pressure, distressed.

“Perseverance” keeps on  going, like the advertisement for “The Energizer Bunny”  that keeps going and  going and going using a certain battery. Perseverance doesn’t quit. It doesn’t panic, it keeps going. Steadily. Assuredly. And with each new trial, trouble, pressure, you can build on it as you look back and see His faithfulness to empower you to THINK right and do Right and keep on going! Perseverance, persistent, a lifestyle of continuing on…staying power!

The words, Endurance and Perseverance, are interchangeable.

“You need to persevere{endure} so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”-{Heb 10:36}

” Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.“-{James 1:2-3}.

“being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, “-{Col 1:11}

“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,”-{Rom 15:5}

“Endure suffering with me as a good soldier…” -{ 2 Timothy 23}

Suffering, tribulations produce what? “Perseverance!” You need troubles to develop perseverance!

2.Producing Proven Character –

Is one word, {Dokime}, it describes the quality of having stood the test,…speaks of something has passed the test.

It was used of metals that were put through the fire and came out the other side as genuine, authentic. It is to put something to the test with the purpose of approving it. “KNOWING” means “to be Fully assured” that suffering, tribulations, produced perseverance, that is not overcome by the trials but overcomes them and continually goes forward, and perseverance produces “proven character,” that has been tested and the seal of God’s approval as passing the test!

The word speaks of metals that go through the fire to strengthen them. God uses suffering, tribulations, pressures as the fire to strengthen our faith. 

When you go through a test and by faith have responded so according to His Word, your faith becomes approved, it is genuine!

You have been through the test, trusted His faithfulness, promises and…passed the test… and are approved by GOD!

The word is used of Timothy in Phil 2:22; “But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.” Also in James 1:12 ” Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved,{same word} he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” and 1 Peter 1:6 “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof {the same word} of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

We suffer and learn perseverance, and perseverance through many trials, suffering, “tribulations, great pressures, ” and our character is formed and approved. Tested and Approved!

3. Producing a Hope –

Perseverance produces approved character and in turn brings about, enlarges our…hope! Biblical hope speaks of certainty! “Confident expectation in  a future good!”Confident expectation in the LORD for good. Our Hope is strengthened when we have passed the test in our sufferings, more reliant and confident in His faithfulness and promises. Hope of eternal glory to be with Him.

Our Hope is not in a suffering free life but in a suffering free eternity with our LORD Jesus.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.“-{ 2 Cor 4:16-18}. The hope of eternal glory.

 

4. Hope That Does Not Disappoint {“Make Us Ashamed”- KJV}- 

“That is a figure of speech called litotes, which is the use of a negative to express a positive idea. Paul does this in Romans 1:16 when he says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the power of God…” What does he mean? He means he is proud; he is confident and bold. I think that is the term that we ought to use here. Hope makes us confident. Hope, or certainty, produces confidence and boldness.” -{John Piper.}

“…hope does not disappoint” literally, “…hope does not make us ashamed.” In Psalm 22;4-5 The Psalmist cries out to God, “In You our fathers trusted; They trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed.” The last phrase is literally, “…they were not put to shame.” Psalm 25:3″…Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;” To trust in God will not lead to disappointment or shame.

The Love Of God!

One reason we are not disappointed, ashamed, is because of the assurance that God has poured out the love of God into our hearts to assure us! “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 5:5}.

 Suffering does not nullify God’s love for you!

The reason “hope does not disappoint us?” He used the word “because” to give us the reason The love of God has been poured out in our heart through the gift of the Holy Spirit to us, assuring us in our suffering, tribulations that God loves us! “Poured out,” implies an abundant  continual supply of His love and this by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

These sufferings are not a sign of His displeasure as we often think when something hard or difficult come into our lives and we need to renew, change our thinking to align up with His Word.-{Read Romans 12:2}. In verses 6-10 He explains this love of God for us! This is so so important because we each can go through suffering, tribulations and come out the other end, bitter, resentful, angry with God and believing God was “punishing us” and if He really was “good,” “He would not have allowed me to go though this,” and end up settling down in hostility towards God and others. Bitter! And this because we had a wrong concept of God, we need to see our sufferings, tribulations, those things that cause distress from His perspective as reveled in His Word. This is why we must be like the Bereans who searched the Scripture when they listened to Paul, to see if what He was saying was true. We must become people of the Word so we can know what the God of the Word thinks and would have us “to be Fully Aware “of!

How sweet of the LORD knowing us that when pain, suffering comes into our lives we may think, and we do have an accuser who will bring such vile and destructive and untruthful thoughts to our mind seeking to get an entrance to influence us by embracing accusatory thoughts,  by tempting us to embrace them such as “God does not love you!…He is punishing You!” And if we embrace the lie we end up despondent, double-minded, fearful and a wrong concept of God as a loving Heavenly Father, whose discipline {training} is done not in love who is for us, but lives to punish you and “get you,” just waiting for you to sin or make a mistake. That is a perversion of your Heavenly Father as one of His. He knows the suffering one, needs to be assured that God loves them!  And what is His appeal to His assurance of love for us? The Cross of Christ! 

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.“-{Romans 5;6-10}.

If God could love us when we were enemies, sinners, helpless, unGodly “MUCH MORE THEN…”

 Here is the point. Seeing your suffering, tribulations, as God’s Love, for you, not His anger, wrath!

His love for you in developing you, making you spiritually stronger!

God is working food for us and in us! He uses difficulties, sufferings for us and not against us

His love manifested in Justifying You

His Love manifested in imparting Peace

His Love manifested in Granting You Access To God

His Love manifested in your new Standing In Grace

His Love manifested in a Future Joy

His Love Manifested in Knowing His Purpose In Suffering

His Love manifested In the Gift Of The Holy Spirit

His Love manifested in The Cross  -{Romans 5:1-10}

The Love of God, the Foundation and Focus in times of Suffering and “Knowing,…”To be Fully Aware…” of what God is doing in times of suffering, tribulations, pressures…