Summary: This sermon deals with the reasons you need to rejoice in your sufferings because of what it produces in you including perseverance, character and hope.
Folk the reality is, we live in a world where there are natural disasters, political catastrophes, economic hardships, accidents, illnesses, death and widespread wickedness. No one can be a part of such a world without times of suffering. Likewise, the believer is not sheltered from adverse situations and circumstances in life. God is not an over protective parent who spares His children from the suffering that is common to man. Suffering is a part of life.
Paul’s instruction to the Roman Christians was to rejoice in their sufferings. He didn’t say rejoice because of sufferings. Rather he instructs us to rejoice IN them. Now, that’s not the usual response in times of trouble. People are more likely to murmur, grumble and complain under such circumstances. But Paul is not alone in His instruction. James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds.” Peter also chimes in with the same sentiment in 1 Peter 1:6, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” So the NT teaches us to rejoice in our sufferings.
Alabama boy turned Texas pastor, David Dykes had his congregation say, “Praise the Lord” five times in a row when preaching on this passage. Could we try that? Each time get a little louder and more enthusiastic. Now, many of you really didn’t want to do that did you? That proves one truth about rejoicing. Rejoice even when you don’t feel like it. Your feelings shouldn’t tell you how to live. Rather, tell your feelings that you’re going to obey the Word of God. Make the choice to rejoice! Why? Because there are several reasons to rejoice in your sufferings:
I. Because Suffering Produces Perseverance verse 3
Sufferings are the first step in the divine refining process. God wants us to be victorious in and through the sufferings that come into our lives, not attempt to escape from them. All too often Christians seek deliverance from trials and troubles. We want out of the fiery furnace of testing, rather than embracing our sufferings. But some of life’s most meaningful lessons are learned in the school of suffering, affliction and tribulation. Without them you won’t reach spiritual maturity.
On the other hand rejoicing and embracing your suffering produces perseverance or patient endurance, steadfastness. The Greek word is a combination of “hupo” meaning under and “meno” meaning to abide or remain. So it’s to stay under a heavy burden or load. It’s the quality that doesn’t surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial. It’s staying power. It’s the ability to hold up and not fold up; to joyfully keep trusting God in the face of opposition and tribulation. Perseverance is the developed ability to hold up under heavy emotional and spiritual testing.
II. Because Perseverance Produces Character verse 4a
This is the second reason we rejoice in our sufferings. Patient endurance results in strength of character. It denotes that which has been proven by trial. Character describes the quality of being tested and approved. It was used to refer to metal whose impurities had been purged by fire. That was Peters point in First Peter 1:7. Even so the enduring of trials tends to burn the unbelief out of our lives and leaves us with a firm faith that’s more valuable than gold. A character that truly trusts in Christ in every situation and circumstance no matter how good or bad, bright or bleak, triumphant or trying. It’s the character composed of Christ as Life!
God is not so much concerned with our comfort as He is with our Character. He’s more concerned with us being holy than He is with our happiness. He saved us to conform us to the character of His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord. In our adversity God wants to bring out the life of Christ and He wants us to appropriate Christ as our Life.
III. Because Character Produces Hope verse 4b
This is the third reason we rejoice in our sufferings. It is the experience of coming through a time of testing that produces hope. Our confidence in God’s ability and willingness to bring us through difficult times leads to an ever brighter hope for that which lies ahead. Hope is not superficial optimism, but the confident assurance of that which will surely come to pass.
The believer who is moving towards spiritual maturity develops Christian, biblical hope. Last week I defined that as expectation plus desire. It’s the desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it according to Strong’s concordance. I like how J.W. MacGorman pictured it. “Hope is not the tuition we pay as we enroll in the school of adversity. Rather, it’s the diploma awarded to those who by the grace of God do well on the tests.” Hope always burns most brightly in those whose character has been developed through overcoming many sufferings, trials, tribulations and afflictions.