“Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things He has for us in the future. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us.”
ROMANS 5:1-5 (J.B. PHILLIPS NEW TESTAMENT)
This passage is a good “big picture” for believers. It has good Christian “keywords”: faith, peace, grace, rejoice, hope, glory. Then some harder words: suffering, endurance, character. Thankfully we finish with more great words: hope, love, the Holy Spirit.
Hope is mentioned several times. Humans need hope, and when hope is gone, we despair. When I find myself losing hope, it usually comes from focusing on specific, short-term situations. Even months- or years-long situations are short-term, in view of eternity. We are promised a share of God’s glory, through His grace!
“That’s great,” you say, “but I can’t always focus on the hope of eternal life and ignore the present.” This is our constant tension: the now and the not yet. It’s where the harder words come in: enduring suffering that builds character. In our instant gratification culture, we love to share glory. Endure suffering, rejoice in suffering? Not so much.
Truth be told, this cycle – suffering, enduring, building character, and obtaining hope – is the cycle of our Christian lives. We experience it in big and small ways, no matter our situation. If we rejoice in sufferings, knowing that the end result is the building of our character, this gives us hope. God is refining us!
Finally, sharing in God’s glory is not restricted to the future in heaven. We share in His glory now, in the present, as we receive His grace and peace, and trust Him for our hope in all things big and small, present and future. (BETH KIRBY)