Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 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 5:1-5)
"We pass in fact through tribulations; but we rejoice in this, because it exercises the heart, detaches us from the world, subdues the will, the natural working of the heart, purifies it from those things which dim our hope by filling it with present things, in order that we may refer more to God in all things, which, after all, are entirely directed by Him whose faithful grace ministered all this to us. We learn better that the scene in which we move passes away and changes, and is but a place of exercise, and not the proper sphere of life. Thus hope, founded on the work of Christ, becomes more clear, more disentangled from the mixture of that which is of man here below; we discern more clearly that which is unseen and eternal, and the links of the soul are more complete and entire with that which is on before us. Experience, which might have discouraged nature, works hope, because, come what may, we have the key to all, because the love of God who has given us this hope, made clearer by these exercises, is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us, who is the God of love dwelling in us."
It's pretty hard when we are in circumstances that grieve us, dishearten us, and test us to the max to rejoice. To read the words "we rejoice in our sufferings" goes against our nature and is not our natural response. In fact we find it impossible when so beaten down and worn out to even think of such a thing as rejoicing. But remember who is saying this, and by Whom He is saying it. Paul, who was persecuted, beaten, maligned by false teachers, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and left for dead more than once is by the Holy Spirit speaking these words, so we must take heed. We must learn the why behind what he says. Paul's counselor was the Holy Spirit, Who guided him through every hardship and grief and loss and trial. And that Counselor taught him the value of everything he suffered in Christ as something to rejoice over, because it was not in vain. It had a purpose, and that purpose, though higher than anything we can here and now understand, was greater than our own thoughts of the way we should see things happen in our lives. The more Paul learned Jesus, the more he rejoiced and the less the suffering hurt him. In fact he learned that in every circumstance, whether debased or abounding, having plenty or suffering loss, to be content (Philippians 4:11-14).
Here we see that our "hope in the glory of God" is what brings us rejoicing. That hope is sure and never fails and we know we have it. We will one day experience that glory. So we not only rejoice in this hope, but we are enabled to also rejoice in our sufferings in Christ, because we know 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." What we need to tell ourselves is this very thing when we are suffering any kind of trial. It is a time for us to exercise faith in this very word and many more.
We won't find that rejoicing comes to us automatically, or that we can do so in our flesh. We can only do so as we are abiding in His Word (reading it, believing it, and applying it to our walk). We will only find His Word true and powerful for us as we believe and obey it and put it into practice (Hebrews 4:1,2). We cannot be passive Christians when we find ourselves in great trouble or need. We do become passive when all things are going our way and things are good around us. We find we do not have to exercise much endurance or faith or hope or rejoicing. No effort is involved. Unfortunately this is human nature. Our trials are our training grounds to learn to do this. The purpose for this is our ultimate glorification with Christ. We are being prepared for Heaven, not to just have a happy life here. Contrary to what one popular teacher says, God does not want this to be your best life. If it were so, we are to be pitied more than all men on the earth! The only ones that this is the best life for are those who will never see Heaven because of their unbelief. This is the closest to Heaven they will ever come. For those who love Jesus and trust in Him alone to be their Savior, this is the closest to hell we will ever come.
There is no shortcut to growing in the grace and knowledge of God. There is no skipping over the chastisement and training He brings to our lives in order to enter into all He would have for us in knowing His great love. There is no easy road to travel on the road to godliness and Christ-likeness. There is a promise of treasure beyond our imagination at the end of it, a knowing Him and being filled with Him beyond our ability to comprehend, a love filling us that we never thought possible, and eternal promise of glory and more glory with Him forever! If we complain about the chastisement we are under still, we are not walking in faith and hope in what He has in store for us, and we waste all the opportunity He is giving us to know Him through this.
With this God what have we to fear? All is for our good. Who can conquer us?
(28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(29) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
(30) And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
(31) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(32) He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
(33) Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
(34) Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
(35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
(36) As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
(37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
(38) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
(39) nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
May the Lord fill us with hope, rejoicing, and endurance wherever we find ourselves in our lives right now. May He give us faith to trust in all that God allows knowing it comes through His nail-scarred hands. May we see such a love as His as thee greatest thing to live for forever.
If you do not know Jesus as your Savior personally, and you don't know if you are going to Heaven, you can know. Click HERE for more information on how you can become a child of God and be sure.