By Hal Green
Let the first step on your path to God be that of faith. Specifically, faith that you have obtained peace and right standing with God through Jesus Christ. Take hold of that faith and let it take hold of you.
Once that faith is in place, strengthened by the surrounding grace of God, you will be ready to face, unshaken, whatever may come in your service to God and love. Paul puts forward what to expect in one of the most important passages of promise in the Bible:
“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:1-5).
Paul wants us to boast in the hope of sharing God’s glory, as revealed and offered to us in Christ. We are even to boast about the sufferings that may come in service to the Lord. Why? Because such suffering, with the hidden upholding of the Spirit, will produce endurance and endurance will lead to character. Then in a kind of circling back, character will produce hope. This hope will not disappoint us or fade away because God’s love will be poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, given to us as we persevere.
Suffering comes to us all. Essential to maturing in faith is learning to withstand such hardships. That includes the faith that suffering will generate endurance. Truth is, without suffering we cannot develop endurance, which lays the foundation of character. I think of the elderly persons I served, when I was a Protestant pastor, who were members of the “greatest generation.” They suffered through the Great Depression and World War II; yet they endured. In so doing, they attained a quiet strength of character, moral fortitude and clarity about what truly matters in life.
The four questions: What does this passage say? What does it say to you? What do you want to say to God? What might God want to say to you?
As you pray this Scripture, ask the Holy Spirit to pour God’s love into your heart. Through God’s love and the hope that it generates, you will be able to endure what comes with the faith conviction that you are destined to share in the glory of God.
(Hal Green, Ph.D., is author of Pray This Way to Connect with God. You can contact him at email@example.com.)