All Tribulation Has A Purpose
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)
One of the greatest myths in life is, once you enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, life will be perfect from that moment on. You’ll notice that I emphasized the word, “myth” by italicizing the term. Fortunately, this is a myth and all who enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ should actually expect troubles, persecutions, and over all tribulations during the remainder of their lifetime. Please notice that the word “fortunately” is also emphasized. Why? Because without tribulations, an element of promise behind Romans 5:3-5, would be meaningless.
I also emphasized the word “promise” to point out this fact, you WILL experience tribulations during your lifetime.
I did pull the Strong’s Concordance and Vine’s Expository Dictionary off the shelf and gathered some information that I will express where needed but without direct quoting. For the term “tribulation” it is referring to mainly when we find adversity or suffering in our life. Bear in mind, not adversary (an opponent), but adversity (sufferings). I want to be clear that this is about life struggles and the suffering you will experience during your lifetime.
I remember an old cliché dealing with running from adversity, the result will produce a person who will always have an inability to deal with troubles when trouble happens. From this, it is understandable that by not running from any struggles, the experience gained will produce an ability to endure through any future trouble.
In a way, I do believe one of the greatest troubles that some Christian’s deal with today is centered on that myth I mentioned. Yes, believing that your life will suddenly be trouble free by entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ, is tough to overcome. Some have prayed for suffering to go way, they “give” the troubles over to Jesus to just TAKE away. Not facing the truth that the very trouble that they are experiencing, is God’s will FOR them. By attempting to run from the trouble with the excuse, “I’m giving this trouble to you Lord, take it away…” Is just that, running away from the trouble in the hopes that the suffering with also, go away. This is a false hope.
Double check the verses in Romans 5, the following terms are mentioned: endurance, character, and hope. Point blank, with real hope you can find joy in any situation no matter how bad the situation may be.
You have to understand that troubles are expected and while Jesus will “help” us through the trouble, He will not take them away. There is a purpose for the trouble and the main scriptures, Romans 5:3-5 is a scriptural promise that cannot be denied. If denied, how else will you be able to endure, how will you become better in character and how will you have true hope? There are several other verses that immediately come to mind in support of this promised truth that you will experience struggles and suffering:
James 1: 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
OK, to endurance, better character and hope we add, steadfastness that leads to a perfect completeness where you lack, nothing.
Utilizing these two sets of scriptures, if you take the time to read the surrounding scriptures of both Romans 5 and James 1, a purpose for troubles can be discerned. Realizing that purpose however is only possible by experiencing the very struggles and suffering raised in the scriptures.
Jesus wants us to be faithful, in our relationship with Him. Again, notice the word that is emphasized and the comma added so you pause after reading the term, faithful. Why?
Because Jesus Christ wants us to be JUST LIKE Him. Ever hear of “being Christ-like?” Usually, we understand this as being compassionate, loving, giving, etc. I want to point out that one of the greatest characteristics of being Christ-like, is to BE faithful to God. Just as Christ Jesus was faithful in all He was and in all He did, for His Father.
There is a “need” for our faithfulness to God and here is an understanding in the least amount of words I can use. God will need us to do works that without great endurance, without great character, without hope… we will not be able to faithfully stand firmly (steadfastness in faith) against the struggles that cause suffering. Struggles that are trying to prevent us from being obedient to God in a relationship with Him and in the completing of works He has planned.
Concerning faith. In the Romans verses, leading up to verse 3-5, Paul is speaking about faith and how by faith, a person is saved, is justified before God through Jesus Christ.
V1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 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.
Do you “stand” in the grace that Jesus Christ provided to you?
What does it mean to stand in grace and thus, in faith? What determines this is what you DO, when you encounter troubles in your life. Do you run, or do you stand firm? Based on these verses, you are exhorted or encouraged to stand firm. Why?
So that you can rejoice and be joyful while in the troubles that you will experience. What?
Hear me out. Review the scriptures put forth so far in Romans 5:1-5 and James 1:2-4. Find in these scriptures the PURPOSE for enduring of any and all adversity that you will experience throughout your lifetime. Yes, even during your lifetime while in relationship with Jesus Christ.
Keys to remember are what has been lifted from the scriptures: endurance, character, hope, steadfastness, completeness, lacking nothing.
It is hard to understand these scriptures sometimes for two reasons. You don’t have the experience of these scriptures active in your life (troubles are still due) or when adversity came against you, you did not deal with the suffering properly. The lack of dealing with adversity has caused you to NOT experience growth, maturing and ultimately, an understanding of what rejoicing and joy in the midst of trouble is all about. As hard as this is to hear, you lack endurance, character, hope, steadfastness, and completeness.
What is being said in the scriptures?
I will have to bring up the Greek for the term, “tribulation.” In the Strong’s Concordance, the reference is 2347: thlipsis. In my own words and not going into great word by word detail, it is all about “pressure.” A key however in understanding the use of this word, is that the pressure referred to is internal in nature and you can’t escape the pressure. In other words, you can’t run away from what has caused suffering.
How many of you left a job, or left a church, or left a friendship, or even ran away from family but the problem, the suffering, is STILL with you? Or, the suffering will never truly end.
Don’t try to cover up the suffering by numbing it or avoiding it. No matter what you do, the pressure remains. God needs for you to pass through the tribulation so “His” desired result can be achieved IN you.
This is where the scriptures lead you in understanding that such pressures, such sufferings, such tribulations are for the purpose of rejoicing. Still hard to accept?
Have you ever truly overcome a problem, gained endurance, gained good character, gained greater hope, became firmer, because once passed the “cause” of the suffering, you understand that you are a stronger person? You smile, even wonder why it seemed so hard for you when the struggle first began? Even now, when suffering endures, you still have joy. Look at the following scriptures:
Acts 14: 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
2 Corinthians 7: 4 I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.
Ephesians 3: 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
When you take a moment to sit down and read through these scriptures, notice the context in how “faith” is enabling rejoicing to occur. Faith “in” Jesus Christ empowers you to endure the worse of struggles. Struggles that will occur in your life and even in the lives of those you love and know. Family and friends, even strangers are all or will all, endure struggles in their lives.
A question I always ask when a person is or has been enduring a struggle. I ask, “What is the lesson you are learning or have learned?” If this question cannot point to a more mature person in the mirror as a result of enduring through the struggle, then I honestly illuminate what must be considered. That the struggle is not over or has actually been avoided. Truly, when a person is dealing with a struggle and that struggle is met at “its” fullest potential and dealt with, then the product is a person who has matured by overcoming the struggle itself or by the empowerment to find joy in the midst of suffering that can last for the remainder or your life.
The experience leaves you joyful, meaning you can rejoice. Through this experience, you will find that the joy remains during future struggles because you KNOW, by faith that you will endure until the problem is overcome. You experience firsthand what endurance, character, hope, firmness, completeness and lacking of nothing, truly means in your life.
The mindset that Paul is pointing out in many of those verses and what James also emphasizes is that with Christ, ALL is possible. There is no struggle, no pressure, no tribulation, no persecution or whatever term you need to use to fit the trouble you are experiencing, that can crush you. You can endure any struggle because of Christ Jesus and also endure until the “lesson” is learned and you mature as a person and as a child of God so that you can faithfully accomplish the work God has for you, even if you are still suffering.