God’s proven character produces hope in any circumstance.
This article is based on a preaching given by Pastor Joseph Bonifacio during an online staff meeting with ENC missionaries in April 2020.
For the past six weeks, it has been a privilege for me to witness you serving, connecting with God, and reaching out to others despite the circumstances. It’s a privilege that we get to do these together in the midst of crisis and suffering.
Suffering never feels good. And yet it is interesting to note that Paul exhorts us through his letter to the Romans to rejoice in our sufferings.
How can we rejoice in our sufferings? It seems like suffering is something to be endured or survived—but is it really possible to enjoy it?
Let’s take a look at the passage where Paul talks about it.
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
Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character.
This makes sense. This is precisely the reason why athletes need to work out, because difficulty increases endurance. For those of us who may not have gone through a lot of suffering, the current crisis can actually help build our character—that is, the person within, the stamp in you, who you really are. And when your character is built, it produces hope.
Character produces hope.
Now this doesn’t seem to make sense. Does this mean hope is subjective? Some people see hope in situations where others don’t.
But how exactly does character produce hope? Endurance produces proven character—that is, the kind of character that has been tested, has gone to the limit, has gone through the fire, and comes out like pure gold.
Yes, we know biblical truths. We’ve studied them. We’ve preached them. But It is only through suffering that these truths are tested and we see how strong and good they really are. The things we’ve studied and preached—now we know that they’re true. They’re good. They’re solid. They’re lasting the test of time.
Proven character produces hope because it means God has got us through. Our hope is in the truth that we have seen these trials before, and we have come through to the other side. We may not have experienced a pandemic before, but we have experienced disappointments and disruptions. We have experienced financial lack. We have experienced persecution.
What have you gone through in order to follow Jesus Christ and obey Him? All of those sufferings have strengthened your endurance. They built your character. And they are now pointing you to the hope that you know: “God, you have never abandoned me. You will never abandon me now.”
As we overcome each trial, we keep proving that God is really with us. He has not abandoned us before, so now we know we can go through this. We’ll make it through—with Him.
Hope does not put us to shame.
The hope that comes from tested character does not put us to shame. As we overcome more and more trials, we prove God’s faithfulness even more. And we become more firm in stating, “I made the right decision. I wasn’t wrong to trust God. It wasn’t wrong to say ‘yes’ to God. I wasn’t wrong to put my hope in God.” People without hope need to hear that from us. They need to see it in our lives. They need to experience the same hope we have.
God pours His overflowing, unlimited love into our hearts.
Moreover, we are reminded in this passage that God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. We need God’s love in the midst of suffering, and the good news is that His love is not a trickle. It’s not a ration. It’s poured out—unlimited, overflowing, and always on time. The Holy Spirit can hit anyone with God’s unlimited love, without delay, every single day.
The sum of all this is that we can rejoice in suffering, because in Christ, suffering can only produce good things in us.
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